When I found out I was expecting a baby girl, I was over the moon. I won’t lie – part of me was a little scared; I had a son, and a stepson that I’d known since he was two. I knew boys. I was comfortable with them and how they work. Girls were a little bit… scary! I’d known girls in the nurseries I worked in; I’d seen how they tend to favour pink and glittery, how they could be sassy and just a bit sneaky. I’d seen how they wanted fancy hair styles and how they knew their own minds, even at the age of three. Boys, in comparison, were so much less… complicated. Nevertheless, I was expecting a daughter, and although a little daunted, I was thrilled.
I imagined all the things we could do together while the boys did their boy things (they like to ride trains, and spot planes, and watch football…); we could go shopping, get our nails done, snuggle on the sofa watching girly movies and all the Disney films… hell, we’d be living in our own Disney movie!
Fast-forward three years or so, and my dreams were all but left lying in tatters when the paediatrician confirmed Tink’s diagnosis of autism. By this point, I’d already pretty much given up on those ideas of girly mom-and-daughter days, as it was already pretty apparent that Tink was not sharing my love for those kind of activities (or Disney). Over the last couple of years, as Tink’s interests have become more limited and her routines more rigid, spending time together has largely meant staying at home, or going out to places like the park or other outdoor spaces that she can run around freely. Oh, and good old soft play (two visits this week – joy!).
However, today was the day we finally did ‘normal’!
For a while now, Tink has been getting choosy about her clothes. Whatever I get out for her to wear, she tends to reject, trotting off to her room to find something else instead (usually something too small/too stained/too mismatched – really must have a clear out!). So I suggested that we went to Primark today to choose some new tops, or ‘cardions’ as she calls them. (This stems from when I used to dress her in cardigans often, and I’d say, “come and put your cardi on.” Now any top with long sleeves is a ‘cardion’!)
She was very excited! She likes Primark; she likes to go up the big escalator and back down in the ‘clift’. She didn’t even mind that we went in there first, before going to the soft play (which was lucky, as it was closed for another half hour).
“Wow! Look at all these cardions!”
We looked, and hunted out all the tops with long sleeves, as Tink won’t wear short, and I held them up for inspection and she’d say, “yes, I’m choosing it,” or, “no.” She really wanted a dress too, but they didn’t have anything suitable, so we tried another shop.
“These cardions are brilliant!” she exclaimed. (Me – “whaaaa?!”)
She had decided she wanted ‘Topsy’. Topsy is Topsy from ‘Topsy and Tim’, a UK TV show on the children’s channel. Topsy (and Tim) are annoying little wotsits, but Tink is mildly obsessed with them this week, and has taken a shine to Topsy’s red spotty top. Luckily for us, the second shop had a red spotty top! Tink was over the moon!
“It’s my Topsy,” she told the sales assistant when we went to pay. The sales assistant smiled at Tink, with slightly vacant eyes. I, however, grinned like the Cheshire Cat – Tink was initiating conversation with a complete stranger! And she’d just chosen her own clothes, like a typical girl!
She couldn’t wait to get home to put it on, and when Daddy came home later, she was so proud to show him too!
So that was our day! Some mummy-daughter shopping, a bit of soft play (and a cuppa and some work for Mommy) and a bit more shopping! And I loved it.
Oh, and if you’re oblivious to the joys of Topsy and TIm, this is they…