The leaf distracts D from her usual preoccupation of flinging her hat off...
I thought I'd gotten through the phase of my daughter hating to get dressed every morning. And then winter came.
After a few months of clothing obsession, Diana has decided that she's actually not that interested in getting dressed after all, perhaps because every outing now involves a five-layer outfit consisting of babygro, shirt, cardigan, tights and jeans, before we even get to outerwear essentials like coat, fleece snow pants, hat and mittens.
And yes, I realise that it's not even really that cold outside. So imagine how insane I'd be in proper winter weather. Bolshy even has a chunky knit jumper he wears occasionally - unfortunately, he's too tubby for the XL size I got him and can't actually move in it, so it's reserved for very frosty occasions only.
I can't blame D, really. All those layers of winter clothes - which, as you soon as you enter any kind of indoor setting, or heaven forbid, the tube, become your suffocating, sweat-producing nemesis - are a serious hassle. And they threaten to cramp the style (i.e. impede the movement) of any new walker or runner.
In addition to the bundled layers, which Diana hates, the trickiest parts of my day involve trying to keep Diana from tearing off her hat. At least 46 of her 1,274 tantrums a day are related to me trying to keep her hat on her head and her mittens on her hands.
The hat-tearing issue has become a problem both in the buggy and walking around outside; as soon as I manage to get D's hat on her head, she flings it off the next minute. It's amazing how often we repeat this duet: put hat back on, babe flails, wails and throws it off in anger and so on and so forth, yet the result is always the same. The hat always ends up on the ground, muddy, trodden over and rejected. Or occasionally, it gets thrown off D's head three blocks earlier, before I've realised, and D is the victor, having rid herself of yet another torture device.
But usually, I - clearly on the brink of insanity - just repeat, again and again: "Time to put your hat back on, D!" and feign a smile. And so our clunky pas-de-deux resumes again.
For all of eternity, I expect. Or at least until she's 12.
Of course, if she happens to be given (or more likely, pries off head of another baby) another hat - she'll wear it, happily. She won't want to take it off. It's only her hats (and I have tried many different kinds - ones with flaps, beret-styles, snug caps, etc, all to little effect) that she detests.
Mittens - a new acquisition for D in the last two months, pose a similar problem but they're even harder to find once tossed on the ground, so I have just given up on them completely recently (the stress and back pain involved in picking up a £1.40 pair of mittens from Peacocks fourteen times per block just isn't worth the hassle after a certain point). So on freezing days I toss a blanket over D's hands and hope for the best.
Diana's Daddy – aka still the worshipped one – decided that a scarf would be integral to D's winter wardrobe and donated one of his old stripy ones to our toddler. As a parent, the idea of a toddler in an extra-long adult male scarf sends off instant alarm bells and it's hard to think of a more dangerously unpleasant accessory.
Unfortunately, since Daddy was the one who came up with the scarf idea, it's the only winter warmer Diana doesn't chuck to the ground in a fury every five minutes (she's become so enamoured of it that she even tries to play with it as a toy in the house). So my popularity plummets every time I attempt to ban the item (which I do, almost constantly, as well. The only thing that interrupts my banning of scarves is my picking up of the chucked-on-ground hat).
But perhaps my real worry should be Diana's sudden aversion to clothing of any kind. Soon after D's tummy flashing began, my child started stripping off her pyjama pants in the evenings, too, preferring to run around the house in a nappy and top instead.
I'm ready to fast-forward to summer – and clearly, so is she.