She's three. It's easy for her to delight me. All she has to do is eat the food I just bought her, not throw a tantrum, sit on her chair without knocking over her drink, grin her big grin, and I'm suckered, hook, line, and sinker. As she gets older, I suppose I'll expect a little more from her, and there'll be disagreements over jeans, or shoes, or Bieber, or whatever it is the young people will be wanting when she's a tweeny bopper; but I can't help thinking that I'll always be delighted if my daughter - my beautiful, hilarious, vivacious daughter - is happy to be out in public with her mum.
And then I thought of the gulf between mothers and daughters and saw it from a new angle; this gulf that can be miles wide and unbroachable, or small enough to step across with a shared joke and a smile.
Perhaps I see what I expect to see, but I feel as if her relationship with me, mine with her, is already more complex than the other one, the mother-son bond of simple mutual affection. (And frustration, infuriation, impatience, all those other things.) But because I've been there, because I know Girl from the inside, the weight of all the things I want to teach her - tell her, advise her, show her, avoid for her - is mighty.
Did my mother think these things when she looked at me? Did I barge ahead, embarassed, tolerant, amused, or superior, according to my age or mood at the time? As she sat there, smiling calmly and knowing that some day I'd get my comeuppance? Or was she thinking that my hair was too long and my shoes were too clumpy and my table manners were lacking? It's not a gulf, then; it's a finely balanced scale that is tipped in one direction and then the other by the merest glance or a throwaway comment.
Do Mabel and I still have plenty of time for just enjoying each other's company before all that hits?