Like any mother of a two-year-old, I regularly find myself gazing at Ruby and thinking "oh my goodness, you are unbelievably gorgeous".
And she is, she really is. With her long, dark ringlets, huge blue eyes, pouty mouth and pink cheeks, Ru is seriously very beautiful. So I can't help but wonder why she feels the need to wear a bin on her head.
This happened yesterday, when I had uncharacteristically emptied all the waste baskets in the house in an effort to feel tidy. Perhaps she had never seen the thing not stuffed to the brim before, but suddenly the cavernous interior was irresistibly alluring. At first she tried to climb in feet first but (probably because the bin is quite large), Ru just kept toppling over. So she changed tack.
"Ru?!" I said. "What are you doing in that bin?"
She didn't answer me, she just stayed completely still, probably thinking I couldn't see her. So I said: "Where's Ruby gone?" assuming it would have the usual effect of making her pop right out, yelling "RAAARGH!". But it didn't.
"Ruby?!" I said again.
"Bin!" a quiet voice replied. And then Ru did something I wasn't (but probably should have been, knowing her as I do) expecting: she ran. Given that she couldn't have seen very much from in there, it was not surprising that she almost instantly made contact with a wall. I waited for the squeals, but Ruby just got up, wobbled a bit and ran again.
Fearing this new game would end in tears, I decided I had better coax my daughter out. "Darling, let's go and get your lunch. Shall we have some pasta? Ruby? Pasta? With cheese?"
The bin nodded and followed me to the kitchen.
Five minutes later, with a plate in my hand, I was sure the smell of reheated fusilli would be enough to encourage Ruby to re-emerge – but no! A little tug on the top of the bin told me forcing the issue would result in quite a tearful tantrum. So, curious, I put the pasta on the table and waited.
The bin lifted a bit, not much, and a little hand snaked out, patting around for the plate. She grabbed a piece of pasta and secreted it back into her cave. Lunch, as you can probably imagine, took quite a long time (it was also, as I'd see later much later, rather messy).
And so continued a very bizarre afternoon of communicating with a walking, talking (somewhat clumsy) wastepaper basket. Thankfully, the fact that the bin is woven and full of big holes reassured me it was just weariness, rather than a lack of oxygen, that finally saw Ru conk out on the sofa.
I promptly removed the bin from her head, put it back on the floor and began filling it – and full it will remain. Well, she'll be having casserole and mash tonight and it just doesn't bear thinking about...
You can catch up on previous Terrible Twos columns here