1. As we hurry away from Jane's with a bag of gleaming sweet chestnuts from her garden we overtake an older Chinese couple picking up similar treasures from the pavement.
2. Bettany grabs Meredith's bracelet and tries very hard, despite her disobedient arms, to put it in her mouth. When we take it away from her she protests loudly and tries to manoeuvre herself so that it is within reach. I've seen her manipulating toys that I've handed her, but it's the first time I've seen her grab something of her own accord.
3. Tempers fray at snack time.
"Why did you throw your cereal across the table?"
"Because I want a biscuit."*
"If you don't want something you say 'no thank you' and put it to one side. If you'd done that I would have given you a biscuit."
"I did it because I a naughty boy."
"No, you're a good boy, which is why it was a naughty thing to do, and that's why I feel cross."
My logic leaves us both baffled for a moment. Then Alec says, "I do want my tsereal."
"Here it is." (I'm thinking, bless him, and I'm thinking, go me and my parenting skills.)
"No thank you." He puts it carefully to one side. "Now can I have a biscuit. A biscuit, please."
I've been outfoxed by my own creation. To say no would require an explanation of the subjunctive (would and will are interchangeable to a toddler) and it seems easier to note the lesson and to give him the most boring biscuit I can find.
*The correct answer is "Because I am two and a half and the parts of my brain that control impulses will not be wired up for another year. Plus I'm very tired."