Babe: Three years and nearly ten months
Babeling: Seven months

The babe has been impervious to pink and fluffiness, as far as I could tell, until one month ago. I was in a newsagent with her and I offered her a Bob the Builder magazine because it seemed to have lots of things to do AND loads of stickers, thereby ticking all the relevant boxes, or so I thought.

‘It’s not pretty, Mummy,’ she said. ‘I want that one. THAT’s pretty.’

She was pointing at something so encrusted with pink glittery princesses that I was reluctant to even touch it without tongs, never mind buy it, but I was so shocked I couldn’t think of a coherent reason not to. So I did. There was a lot of dress-wearing after that. Then term finished and it’s subsided quite a lot so I suspect nursery school peer pressure.

Her cousin, on the other hand, is a proper hard-core fairy mermaid butterfly ballet-dancer princess owner of several Barbies, despite the fact that she is the biological daughter of my sister. (We can’t work this one out). Anyway, we’ve been spending time with the princess cousin this summer. On meeting the babe at the start of the holiday she narrowed her eyes, scrutinized the babe and said, ‘Do you yike plincesses?’

Fortunately the babe said yes and was admitted into her pink glittery clique of two, where they share mermaids (only the plincess cousin gets the one with the tail, though) and have fierce arguments about who will get an Ansome Plince.

This was probably why, however unconsciously, I was reluctant to buy the pink-encrusted rag. I also have a loathing of Disney’s Little Mermaid film. I can just about overlook Arial’s push-up seashell bra (which is more than Arial can), but the focus of the whole film is far too much on her longing for that bloke she fancies. I prefer Cinderella, where the prince remains a distant manly silhouette without much relevance to the plot. I’m convinced that too much Disney will give the babe a warped view of finding a mate.

Another friend of hers wheeled out her entire collection of dolls the other day when we went round to play – about sixteen princesses and one Andsome Plince.

‘And now,’ announced the friend (who is four), ‘he will try the tiara on all of these princesses. The one who looks the prettiest in it will be the Bride. Actually, it will light up pink.’

He had to go through all sixteen (seventeen if you include the fact that he tried it on himself, just to make sure) to find his wife. I say: if only it was that easy.

(p.s. to the mother of the tiara-contest four year old, in case you are reading this, I am not suggesting that your daughter is warped! So I won’t mention what you overheard her saying in the bath… :-))

Fairy tale