My daughter is adorable. Here is a picture I took of her when she was two years old. Look at those fat legs!
She's now seven years old, and no longer has fat legs, but is still beautiful.
The problem is, I've spoilt her rotten. This is partly because I feel so guilty for virtually never seeing her - with my childcare arrangement, I only get weekends and holidays. This has given me the freedom to have a career, and with the money I make, I buy her lots of things. She has a telly in her bedroom, an iPad and pretty much everything she could want.
But in the past few days, I've had a wake-up call. First, she complained, "You got me loads more presents at Christmas than for my birthday!"
She's right: for Christmas, she got about 20 presents from me. For her birthday, she got ten, plus £100.
"That's because I gave you £100," I protested.
"Yeah, but stuff's so expensive I can hardly buy anything with it!" she came back. (Bear in mind she also gets presents from her dad.)
She's away from me for a bit, so I decided last night - with her permission - to tidy her incredibly messy room. It's only three metres by two metres, but I found dozens upon dozens of presents still in their cellophane. There were also things out of their wrapping which she'd never used: colouring books uncoloured; sticker albums untouched; sheets of stickers, erasers and pencils intact, etc.
It's such a shame, because now, when she receives a present, her reaction is "meh". She's just not enthused at all. She unwraps it, nods impassively, and then it's on to the next thing.
This is my fault.
When I was a kid, my parents didn't give me soft toys or dolls. There were a few stuffed animal toys around the house (none of them mine, and all rough-textured), but when I was seven years old I got educational stuff: an abacus, books, school stationery. My parents were so strict, they didn't try to please me: they gave me what they thought I should have, not what I wanted. There was virtually no telly, and no radio either. I was so bored, I remember playing with a broken tile in the backyard one dull Sunday afternoon, because there was little else to do.
And because my childhood was so devoid of gifts and joy and love, I vowed to give my wonderful daughter a childhood that was the exact opposite: full of presents and pleasure. I wanted her to have everything she wanted, whenever she wanted it. And in the process, I've created a child who is so dulled by the experience of being given things, it's almost painful.
So I've cleared her room and am giving all the unused stuff to the charity shop, and from now on, she's getting presents at Christmas and her birthday only - and a moderate amount.
She will no doubt scream and cry when she finds out, and say I'm the worst mummy in the world. But I think it'll be good for us both in the long run.
After all, if I'd been starved as a kid, the solution wouldn't be to over-feed her and make her sick, but to feed her a sensible amount. I'm not very good at moderation, but I'm going to try.