At the end of a very long week, a lot has changed in the Scribble household. It all began when my happy, over-excited, delightful six-year-old daughter suddenly became demanding and difficult.
It has not been the weather and the uncertainty over whether she will get to school or not and see her friends, as I originally thought it was. It has not been the fact that we have been stuck indoors a lot and at times it has been quite tedious.
There has been a lot more going on in her little mind than I realised. It has taken several days for the penny to drop, but thankfully it has although I should have picked up on the cues she was giving me a lot earlier than this.
Suddenly the child who has no problems getting to sleep just could not settle; she did not want to be left alone. She constantly got out of bed and tantrumed at the top of the stairs well into the night. It almost drove me to distraction. I'll admit, my reaction was one of annoyance and frustration. I thought she was just behaving badly.
Then the child who usually eats reasonably well decided she had little interest in food and kept changing her mind about what she wanted for dinner. I would supply her with several options which she would then not bother eating anyway. Again, I couldn't understand her behaviour and reacted with frustration.
Then came the line: "I want to be a baby." And the line came over and over again.
I couldn't understand it. I explained to her that she would always be my baby but she was also six now. That meant she needed to dress herself like she had been doing until the start of this week, she needed to continue sleeping in her own bed; she couldn't suddenly demand to sleep in mine, and she needed to listen to me, because she had not been listening.
But here's the thing - I was the one who had not been listening.
The thumb-sucking, the constant statement: "I want to be a baby" and the cries for me at night were her way of telling me something was wrong. At six-years-old she can't sit me down and explain what is bothering her, so she has to show me through her behaviour instead, which was exactly what she was doing.
Except I missed the cues. I just thought she was behaving badly and being deliberately difficult which she does do at times.
IJ has been asking a lot of questions recently about life, the world, growing-up and our own family circumstances. And I have been doing my best to answer them and reassure her and tackle the endless questions that have then followed. But clearly I have given her a lot to think about and digest and come to terms with and she has been finding this difficult.
She doesn't want to be a baby; she wants to be held and cuddled and reassured that the world is not the scary place she is imagining it is right now, that I'm here for her and we will wade through all this stuff together.
So if I'm not here, it's because I'm elsewhere. I'm looking after my 'baby'.