I am reliably informed by my youngest daughter's teacher that she is a happy smiley joy to behold in school. Five minutes after I leave the tear streaked clingy child she is sweetness and light, engaged and enthusiastic.
I have no reason to doubt their honesty. I mean it wouldn't make any sense for them to lie.
But all the evidence I can gather suggests it must be fabrication. Most days I am greeted at the end of the school day by a grumpy monster who is reluctant to participate in anything. She no longer likes going swimming, protests strongly (with tears) about going to parties and well, pretty much, says "no" to most suggestions I make. Reading her school book is a whole viaduct too far at the moment.
At home we are treated to the joys of living with a child who never says please or thank you, and most days shouts in my face at ear splitting volume. The only apologies are barked ones that you might imagine a teenager uttering and they only arise when pudding is withheld.
Well you know what, I've had enough. I have a good mind to sit her down and tell her that it frankly isn't fair for school to get the best bit and her family to be on the receiving end of four year old, for want of a better word, arsiness. Of course there would bo no point. She hasn't really got a clue what's going on and I am supposed to be the adult after all. I should be able to hold it together.
It seems that school is actually a minefield when you are four. Tonight alone I have reassured her that she doesn't have to use a toilet if it's disgusting, and that she doesn't have to drink milk if she doesn't fancy it. I've explained that her friend doesn't really never want to play with her again because she (by Phoebe's own admission ) is annoying, and that it's ok because she may not know how much money to take for Children in Need day but I do. It doesn't matter if she never manages to zip up her coat herself and she will know the third line of that Christmas song by the time it's really necessary.
No-one wants to see their child sobbing and clinging to their knees, or refusing to the do the things they have always loved. Poor little thing.
But equally I'm guessing not many people would take kindly to being shouted at in the face for offering to help open a Capri-Sun or for daring to suggest we ought to collectively tidy up. And I know Tilly's singing can be a little off key but she really doesn't deserve quite such damning criticism (delivered in a scream) every time she breaks into song.
So what to do? I imagine the answer lies with routine, early nights, cuddles, distraction, a chat with school and the passage of time. Or a padded room and some ear defenders...