I can look away from the problem no longer. The signs have been appearing quietly for a couple of months now; a push here, a swatted hand there. Each sign was explained away as bad temper, tiredness or a toddler being playful.
But now… now I’m not so sure.
She looks at me so innocently. Occasionally I’ll even get a kiss or a rushed cuddle. But underneath that sweet exterior, lies a dark secret.
My daughter is thrilled by dishing out violence.
The final proof came last week. As my two year old played merrily next to me, reading stories and talking to herself, I started to recognise a word amongst her toddler babble. A word she was repeating, over and over again.
“Blah blah blah, babble babble babble…HIT! Blah blah blah, babble babble babble….HIT!”
As I leaned closer, unable to believe my ears as my beautifully curly-headed, angelic child softly muttered under her breath, I began to pick up clear sentences.
And these clear sentences caused a sharp intake of breath.
She was reading that childhood favourite Dear Zoo. For those of you unfamiliar with this lovely tale, it’s about someone (a boy or a girl, we never find out) who, “Wrote to the zoo to send me a pet”. Rather generously (if you ask me) the zoo obliges.
At first, an elephant is offered. But the fussy pet seeker rejects it, ungratefully commenting, “It was too big, so I sent it back.”
The story continues in this vein, with all manner of wonderful animals being scoffed at – including a monkey (too naughty), a frog (too jumpy) and a lion (too fierce) – before finally the zoo gives up and sends a puppy, which is “just perfect”.
My daughter knows this story off by heart. As I smiled, listening to her list each animal, “Eeefant – too big! Sent back!” before turning the page, I noticed the story was taking a sinister turn.
“Monkey! Naughty! Hit monkey!” *whack*
“Camel! Too grumpy! Hit camel!” *whack*
“Lion! Bad lion! Hit lion!” *whack*
The poor animals. As well as being rejected as gifts, each one had to put up with the announcement it was to be “hit” by my terrifying child.
I looked on, aghast, as my daughter became more and more involved in her game of Hit The Camel, wildly recounting in louder and louder tones the physical punishment she was going to hand out to each animal.
And then she stopped. Turning her face with a knowing look in her eye, she locked me in her gaze. Gulping, I pasted on a weak smile as my thug of a daughter got up and toddled towards me.
Grinning, she leaned her head down towards me, hand raised and ready to strike. I winced, readying myself for the blow and the inevitable, “Hit Mummy!” that I knew was to come.
And she puckered up her lips, planting a big kiss on my head, before whispering, “Love YOU Mummy!” and toddling off again.
Looks like I’m safe. For now.