It turns out that Clarice Bean’s mum and I were separated at birth.
Spiritually, at least.
If you don’t know who Clarice Bean is, she’s the hero of a series of picture books by Lauren Child (of Charlie and Lola fame).
We’re not exactly indistinguishable in the looks department, Clarice Bean’s mum and me. But we have lots in common.
The page dedicated to her is my son’s favourite page in this, his favourite, book.*
“Mum, she’s like you!”, he beams (again).
“Good woman,” I always reply.
The page in question looks at what mum-of-Clarice-Bean does to relax…
- “She balances on one leg in her room”.
- She has a lovely hot, candlelit bath.
CHECK – although unless I pull a really sneaky one, my attempts at #2 end up with Nell plus all her random bath toys joining me.
- “She likes speaking in other languages. It makes her feel like she’s on holiday.”
CHECK. This is the one that particularly freaks me out. Although I don’t think randomly bursting into Italian makes me feel like I’m on holiday. Rather, like I’m elsewhere. Not just geographically but temporally, perhaps.
- She can never find her purse.
CHECK. Although let’s also add ‘phone’ and ‘keys’ to the list of essentials I squander circa 34 minutes of every day looking for.
- She’s the peacemaker, the pacifier, calming sibling squabbles, appeasing ‘Dad’ when he grumbles about the kids’ behaviour.
- She’s only ever ‘Clarice’s mum’. No first name. And no real backstory.
CHECK. I’m Nelly’s mum, or Sidney’s mum to a lot of the people I exchange smiles or sympathetic grimaces with in the school playground. It could be worse. I spent the preschool years self-identifying as ‘sweaty mother-of-two’, because I ALWAYS was, pushing that double buggy around, forever late for doctors’ appointments, health checks, toddler groups…
Anyway, whatever her name might be, she’s my kind of woman. And I’m pretty flattered that Sidney thinks we’re alike.
Especially as she features in a book whose central character is a girl. A strong, sassy, funny girl that reminds me of Nell.
And how do I feel that this book about a girl happens to be my five-year-old son’s current favourite (4 weeks and counting)?
Yep, I’m pretty chuffed about that too.
*Lauren Child, Clarice Bean, That’s Me (Orchard, 1999)