Redster: Six and a half
Cutester: Three

The Redster, as well as losing her baby teeth with gay abandon (she currently has one and a half grown-up front teeth, which looks great) has passed a significant milestone – she is now a Free Reader. This means you have read your way through the required reading stages and can read what the heck you like. She got there pretty quickly, perhaps due to turning into an incorrigible bookworm this year. Every Thursday is new book day, and she got three new books in her book bag – oh the excitement! Thursday is also ballet-after-school day, when the mother of the Redster’s Best Blond Friend and I get to herd four children from school to the ballet school, which means crossing two very busy roads and when herding, little girls can be very like cats, so we really are taking our lives into our hands. The Redster is the easiest of all because she walks along with her nose in one book after the other, keeping me in her peripheral vision so she stops when I stop and never strays more than a couple of feet away. In this way she has usually devoured all three books before the ballet lesson starts, and I have to take heaps of books out of the library to keep her in stories.

I feel a little sad that I’m not part of her reading experience much any more. Before, she could only access the likes of Mrs Pepperpot, the Rainbow Fairies (which I hate, so that’s no loss), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – etc etc, through me and Babyfather. Now she just goes ahead and reads them, telling us not to bother with a story tonight. She’s reading Horrid Henry, umpteen more Rainbow Fairy books than ever deserved to be published, some Roald Dahl that i’ve not even read, and I’ve lost track of all the other stuff. What is going on in that little head of hers without me to monitor it?