You know you ought to start worrying when you discover that your daughter's nursery school teachers have nicknamed her la peste (the pest/plague), la tempesta (the storm) and Attila (umm, that one's just plain embarrassing).
'Do you think she was just born that way?' I hesitantly asked them one day, 'or have I done something to make her slightly, um, livelier than the others?'. I don't know if they were just trying to make me feel better (and God knows they should with the amount I pay them each month), but they assured me that Isabel was just born 'spirited' and that I wasn't responsible. At least not entirely. Damn - there was I hoping they'd just tell me to just switch off the wi-fi at home or something and she'd calm right down. No chance.
'You just have to be firm with her' they advised, 'oh, and make sure all your cupboards are shut with scotch americano.' Scotch americano? Italians call sellotape 'scotch' so it must be a super-strength American sticky tape. Unless scotch americano is some kind of magic child-repellent substance, in which case I want to order a truck load for the toilet, the bins and my mobile. Of course, quite often what I really need in order to deal with Attila is just plain scotch. Ditto a truck load.
In all honesty, she's sweetness and light most the time. She might be the nursery bully/tough nut/chief dummy thief, but she's also by far the smiliest child there and, at 15 months, she can understand everything you say to her in both Italian and English (except 'no' - which, oddly enough, is the same word in both languages). She'll happily take on a kid twice her age and size. Also, I think she may have Womble blood as she's obsessed with picking up litter and then making sure I put it all in the bin. Oh, I get in trouble if I just pretend to put something in the bin. It takes 3 minutes to walk to her nursery to pick her up and then 40 mins for us to walk home as she has to pick up every last scrap of paper and cigarette butt, climb on every little ledge, sit on every step, go into every open doorway, wave hello to every passer by, examine every drain, chase every poor pidgeon... you get the picture. Basically, if you own a dog then please spare a thought for the parents of curious toddlers and use a poopascoop.
There is only one way to calm her down and distract her from drawing all over the radiators. Only one way for me to make dinner without her clinging to my ankles like a sobbing clam. It is unmentionable in the 'right' parenting circles. It is the devil itself for many middle-class yummy mummies. Dare I admit to using it? TV. Two very little yet highly loaded letters. The saviour of many a parent. My saviour. I love it. I'm not a yummy-mummy, I'm a telly-tubby. I'm getting quite into kids programmes now. I could write a thesis entitled 'Why it's never night In The Night Garden' and can talk at length about how Raa Raa the Noisy Lion is the most egotistical little prat in the jingly jangly jungle. Isabel thinks Baby Jake is her brother and even I slip into a trance when Baby Einstein is on. God bless TV.
So Isabel/Attila and I rub along quite nicely in the end. A little telly now and then and some scotch americano on the loo and we'll be just fine.