Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Lauren Beukes

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

It’s blue and pink and yellow and an octopus and a moose

“Mommy, a dragon is coming!”
“A dragon!” I yelped, admittedly with flagging enthusiasm. It was the twelfth one that morning. These guys just didn’t give up. Or maybe it’s just that a two and a three quarter year old really, really loves repetitive games.

The dragons were keeping us entertained on a long car trip by attacking pastures of sheep as we drove by. Luckily, my daughter, Keitu, was able to chase them away with her pegasus pony that spun them round and round until they were dizzy and weak and then she used a magic spell to turn them into ducks and declared, “Sheep, we saved you!”.


I tried to extend the game a little by asking her what colour the dragons were as they swooped down from the sky to gobble up the sheep. We’d already had a blue one and a green one and a purple one. But this one was different and it was a perfect indication of how different my daughter was from even a year ago.

“Yes, mommy, a dragon!” she gasped. “It’s blue and pink and yellow and an octopus and a moose!”

This is my annual birthday blog. She’s three today. Somehow. I’m not really sure how that happened. The same way I don’t quite believe that we could have possibly made her.

Two to three is a very cool age. Although when you have a kid, it seems like every age they are is the coolest it could be – and then it just gets better.

The best part about this age is her imagination. I have tried unsuccessfully to draw a dragon that is blue and pink and yellow and an octopus and a moose, but my adult brain can’t compute what that would actually look like.

She’s got no problem with that, or imagining any number of things. Pink princesses and ballerinas feature, sure (it’s been scary seeing how entrenched and insidiously contagious that propaganda is), but we also play at cowgirls and explorers and eeeeevil witches and dinosaurs and pirates.

Lately she’s gravitating towards stories where someone gets “eaten all up” and books with buccaneers – or both.(Recent favourites include Julia Donaldson’s The Troll , Unfortunately by Alan Durant and The Night Pirates featuring a crew of vicious little girl privateers and recommended by Tricia Sullivan )

Mostly her imagination delights. Sometimes it freaks us out. Like that time we took her to the Greyton Book Festival and Sarah Lotz (her zombie godmother) and I had to go off to a dinner function, leaving her dad to put her to bed in the gorgeous guest house we were staying in.

He was tucking her in to bed, when she asked, “Where’s Sarah?” (You can see who the favourite is round here)
“She’s gone to dinner, baby,” Matthew replied.
“Oh. Where’s mommy?”
“She’s with Sarah. They’ll be coming home later.”
“Oh. Where’s Keitu?”
“What? You’re right here.”
“No, the other Keitu. The one standing outside the window.”

Look, we watch a lot of horror movies (not with her). This kind of stuff freaks us out. A lot. And then we have to pretend not to be. When she calls us in to her room because she’s seen something on the ceiling, I have to make like it’s a butterfly or a friendly fairy, not the Japanese horror movie monster, hanging upside down, with dangling hair and sharp teeth that I’M picturing in my head.

Parenthood is harder than anything I’ve ever done. The first year was a terrible shock. But it gets easier, it gets better and now that she’s a kid rather than a baby, able to express herself and have opinions and invent weird dragon creatures out of her head or say adorable things like “how ever will we get there?”, she’s freaking awesome.

When we started talking about having a kid, I imagined having a smart, cute, crazy girl child, like the kind of smart, cute, crazy girl characters I’d written for kids animation series. Keitu is all those things and more – and entirely in her own way. She’s adventurous, brave, bright, curious, troublesome and very, very sweet. Best of all, she’s constantly, wonderfully surprising.

Matthew and I have developed a bedtime ritual. Not for her (bath-stories-tuck-in-kiss-good-night-get-called-back-re-tuck-get-called-back-again-for-water-insist-on-no-more-calling-please). But for us. It’s called Three Good Things. Between us, we have to come up with three awesome things that Keitu did today before we can go to sleep.

Three is never enough.

(photo by Esa Alexander of The Sunday Times, all rights reserved – which means please don’t use this image elsewhere without permission)


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    September 18th, 2011 @14:15 #

    Happy Birthday, child of my child (sorta). Great post, Lauren, it's left my throat all lumpy, and those are gorgeous photos.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Sally</a>
    September 19th, 2011 @09:43 #

    She is such a cutie!


Please register or log in to comment

» View comments as a forum thread and add tags in BOOK Chat