Tootling off far from me, she chooses her own path, splashing in puddles of sea water gathering in the sand. On the wind, I catch her humming a vague tune all her own.
And then it catches me. That twinge of guilt. Is she lonely?
Frog has no brother or sister to keep her company these summer holiday days. Not that she knows any different I suppose, but she positively lit up like a beacon when some other kids were at the park the other day.
When we planned to have a baby, we had always talked about “children”. We didn’t envisage having one “child”. I had a whole brood in my mind. A noisy tangle of limbs and laughter, chasing each other through the house, bundled into the back of the car for holidays.
Equally though, I didn’t imagine a toddler and a newborn. And then Frog wasn’t a toddler any more (she’s only three, mind you), but I didn’t imagine being pregnant and moving house. And I still don’t, actually.
We are in the middle of house-hunting, searching for a home to buy and finally settle in. It’s been two years of hard graft to save the money needed for a deposit, build my status as self-employed to the point where I’m making a good income and people want to lend me money.
I worked so hard over the last couple of years that now I’m no longer pulling 75 hour weeks I’m rather enjoying spending time with my little girl without feeling the kind of tired that makes you slur your words.
Although I look forward to our family one day expanding, I like our little brigade of three as it is, for now; when she appears at my side in the morning and clambers into bed, snuggling in to me with her blanket, while her dad snores on the other side of the bed. When we sit around the table at mealtimes and Frog is centre-stage with her stories of the day.
“She’ll be spoilt if you don’t have another soon,” someone said to me the other day. I argued that she’d be a diva with or without a sibling – I am living proof of that myself (when my sister arrived I simply saw her as a ready-made audience for my plays and dancing shows, especially as she was too little to turn her chair to face the other way).
“But there’s never a right time to have a baby,” someone else pointed out recently. True, but I really don’t fancy facing that bone-crunching exhaustion of early pregnancy while lugging round boxes and going through the stress of buying a house.
“But if you wait too long, they’ll have nothing in common,” another argument in favour of getting back on the baby wagon. My answer to this one is always the same: you can’t guarantee your kids will get along, just because they’re close in age. There’s four years between my sister and I and she is my best friend.
“But you’re not getting any younger,” a joke from a friend as we discussed the baby thing. I will be 30 in October. I don’t think that makes me old.
A baby is something I hope for again one day. But that day is not today. Or tomorrow, as it happens.
In the meantime, I hope Frog is happy being a lone ranger, splashing in puddles in the sand on her own. After all, she’s not really alone is she?
She’s got her mum and dad to splash with her, until the day when someone else may come along to share her puddles.