Of course, given that she was just over 12 months old, Ruby has no memory of last Halloween. So when I handed her a pumpkin at a local shop at the end of last week, she looked a bit horrified. I think perhaps she thought it was fruit and I was going to ask her to eat it (she point blank refuses fruit of any description).
Anyway, back at home, I showed Ruby and her big sister Ava a picture of one that had been carved and explained how I was going to scoop out all the flesh, then use a sharp knife and make a face, and finally put a candle inside for dramatic effect. Ava jumped and clapped, Ruby gave me her 'er, what's that you say?' look, then turned round and bolted as fast as she could down the hall.
I'd forgotten how long it takes to do a pumpkin and, while I held Ava's attention for about five minutes, she soon suspected that Ruby might be having more fun, perhaps swinging off the curtains unattended in the living room.
Job done, I called them both into the kitchen for the big unveiling. Lit up like a beacon, I felt my pumpkin was a triumph.
"Yaaaay!" Ava exclaimed, "our pum-kin!"
Ruby looked at it, amazed and delighted – she was awestruck. She squealed, then curled both her hands into claws and said: "RAAAAARRRRGGGHH!"
"No it's not a li.."
"LI-YAN!" she shouted! "LI-YAN! RAAAAARRRRGGGHH!"
"No Ruby!" Ava laughed, "It's a pum-kin!" then she looked at me to check she wasn't being an idiot. "It IS a pum-kin isn't it, mummy?"
"Yes," I said, "Ru, it's a pumpkin!"
Well, Ava's not one for inaccuracies, so I left them to it for a while – Ava telling Ruby over and over and over again it was a pum-kin, and Ruby ignoring her and repeatedly roaring. Then Ava got her serious face on:
"Ruby, it NOT lion. It's a pum-kin. Say pum-kin Ruby! Say PUM-KIN..."
And Ruby thought for a second or two, then quietly said: "Bum-kin."
"Yaaay! Well done Ruby!" Ava clapped and gave her little sister a quick cuddle. But, for a second, Ruby looked a bit defeated, and it made me think how much your ego must get duffed up when you're the littlest and almost always not right.
So, I thought I'd give Ruby a bit of a leg up. When they had tired of 'bum-kin' and headed elsewhere in the house to trash the next tidy thing they could find, I popped upstairs to the dressing up box for a wig, and dug around in the box of random wooden building blocks for the pointless semi-circular ones. Then I set about proving Ruby right.
Understand, I do not for one second think it really looks like a lion. But it was enough for Ru. When I called them back into the kitchen, Ruby's volume went maximum.
"A LIY-AN!" she yelled. "RAAAAARRRRGGGHH! RAAAAARRRRGGGHH!"
Ava was bemused. "What happened our pum-kin mummy?"
"It turned into a lion."
When they stopped running round me in circles, with their claws out and teeth bared, laughing their tails off, I picked Ruby up. She looked at the weird monstrosity, and then at me... with a look that seemed to say 'I KNEW it was a lion.'