Down & Out In A London Kitchen

Esther Walker started a food blog called Recipe Rifle in 2009 when desperate and unemployed. In 2010 she married restaurant critic Giles Coren and far, far too quickly had a baby daughter, called Kitty.

Sugar & spice and all things nice... for now

Posted by Esther Walker
Esther Walker
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on Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Now that Kitty is doing quite a lot of talking, and a reasonable amount of walking (as long as she’s holding your hand) I can see a little girl emerging from the blob of a baby.

And I have started to quite excited about it. I have started to fetishise childish things – even though I was a sickly, friendless, fretful child who often refused to go to school – and have all sorts of daydreams about creating an idyllic childhood for Kitty.

You know the sorts of things I mean: fish fingers and peas, sitting on the sofa watching Charlie and Lola, teddies, Brownies, hair in bunches, jumping through sprinklers in summer, bedtime stories, scones and hot chocolate after school, Disney films, best friends and worst enemies, colouring in, Play-Dough, new pencil cases.

It’s all about correcting the things I thought were lacking about my childhood, which had no routine and very little structure. We were allowed to do pretty much anything – we spent entire summers without shoes on, played with matches and knives, fell into bed when we felt like it and had a bath if we thought it might be fun.

But I fear that I only have a tiny window to wallow in this childhood I intend to manufacture for Kitty: we were at a big garden party the other day filled with families and I was sitting in a corner with Kitty, who was eating mud or something, when two little girls of five and seven wandered past me.

“You can be 18,” the seven year-old was saying, “and I’ll be 21.”

Then it all came back to me in a horrid instant – that yearning, that invades little girls quite quickly, to be older, to be grown-up and powerful, striding about toting a handbag, sunglasses and lipstick, rather than holding mummy’s hand, all little and funny and unimportant.

I try to be realistic about childhood and children: I remember quite clearly at about nine years old stumbling upon a vile game of mummies and daddies played with Ken and Barbie in the playground; also a very dark collection of children’s stories in which terrible things happened to naughty six year-olds, that I used to read over and over again. So even though it was so familiar, that wish-we-were-older banter of those two little girls, it made me feel so depressed.

Still, I’ve got three and a half years left. Better make the most of it.

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