As adults we can choose to act childishly.
Amongst ourselves, behaving unreasonably and being found adorable for doing so is a privilege to be judiciously enjoyed.
Children rob you blind of this perk, sprawling greedily all over the territory, like Chris Moyles on a picnic blanket.
If you spend a lot of time with them the injustice mounts until every now and then you stamp your foot and decide that enough is enough and you want your own way and you shall have it.
Bruno has a new book called This rabbit belongs to Emily Brown.
It’s about a well-loved rabbit who is coveted by the Queen but whom Emily will not part with. Eventually, the naughty silly Queen steals Stanley and re-names him Bunnywunny. Emily storms the palace, re-claiming Stanley and his rightful name and leaving the Queen with a teddy bear who (she advises) will also become special once the Queen has loved him well.
The other day I read it to him before his nap and settled him into bed.
But not without the following unpleasant incident intervening:
Me: You see, Stanley is like your Bear and Piggy and Monkey and Dear, isn’t he?
B: Yes, but I haven’t got a rabbit.
Me: Yes, you have. You have this rabbit here, who sits on your bookcase.
This is a very special rabbit called ‘Skinny Bunny’, who used to be Mummy’s when she was a little girl.
Granny used to make clothes for him and Auntie Adele even made him a passport when we went to America.
B: But that rabbit’s called Tom and I want to sleep with him.
Me: No, darling. You’ve got enough animals in your bed now.
And he’s not called Tom, he’s called ‘Skinny Bunny.’
B: No, he’s not, he’s called Tom and I want to sleep with him.
Me: He’s going to sit on the bookcase for now.
And he’s called Skinny Bunny.
B: (starting to cry) He’s not called Skinny Bunny, he’s called Tom and I’m going to get him to sleep with!
Me: (peeling back the Mummy mask) No, you’re not because I’m going to take him next door with me.
Come on, Skinny Bun.
B: No, leave him in here! I want him on the bookcase!
Put Tom back on the bookcase!
Me: He’s coming with me.
HE’S NOT CALLED TOM. HE’S CALLED SKINNY BUNNY.
Look, he’s very skinny! [wrenching up the miniature knitted jumper]
And it says so on his passport!
And off I marched, like the naughty silly Queen, to the fading soundtrack of over-tired sobs.
Two minutes later, cross and petulant with Skinny Bunny on my lap, I took a deep breath and felt the adult returning.
So I picked up my rabbit round the waist, like I used to, and headed back to the little man.
Me: Don’t cry, darling.
You can call him Tom if you like and I’ll put him back on the bookshelf.
We had a kiss and a cuddle and I walked out of his bedroom, leaving my beloved rabbit with his new owner.
But he is called Skinny Bunny.