Is it a parenting fail not to recognise your child in the street? - Janet Christie

Children are like passwords. They keep changing, reduce you to tears of locked out frustration, then magically start working again.

(I’ve just spent more time than I’ll admit trying to remember a password I use daily only for it to reveal itself through random keyboard tapping long after I’d given up and considered mopping the floor of the workpod while my subconscious mind did a search.)

My children do this to me too. Not so much Eldest, who mainly appears reassuringly the same in appearance, or at least is cunning enough to cover whatever ravages he’s been subjecting his body to with a big coat, and Youngest’s recent transformations have concentrated on the head region. This week she warned me the hair was going from pink to purple, so I was sufficiently braced and her reappearance with silvery lilac locks at least two feet longer didn’t wrongfoot me at all. “Gorgeous.”

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But Middle, he’s like a chameleon to me. I’m sure it’s a parenting fail not to recognise your child in the street or by their walk - maybe it’s the skateboard. But it’s become a thing. Youngest will say “There he is” and I’ll still be scanning the horizon when he pops up in front of me with a “Yo Ma”. Just this week she stopped at a stranger lying on a rug in the park and I’m busy thinking “oh I used to have a rug the same as that’’ when it turns out it’s him. I wouldn’t mind but this was a pre-arranged catch-up so I was actually on the look out. She was always a whizz at Where’s Wally?

Same today when I drop by his workplace for a quick neb on how he’s easing back in. Hm, not there. One of the people behind the counter steps out and approaches. This is not the droid I’m looking for. Mine has lovely shoulder-length, dark blonde hair or sometimes a man bun that looks like a cupcake with a cherry on top, but this one kissing the top of my head has a short crop with... ears I remember. Middle’s.

“Wow.”

“Yeah, got tired of it, all gone. Three years’ worth, eh. Friend’s mum did it. She’s a hairdresser. Made it into a plait and sent it to be made into wigs for children who’ve lost their hair through illness. Feels good.” He beams.

Aw. That’s my boy. I think.

Long lockdown locks can be plaited and sent to charities making wigs for children who have lost their hair through illness. www.littleprincesses.org.uk​

www.littleprincesses.org.uk​

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