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She travels to places I can’t see, whispering hushed words of reassurance to her dolls and teddies, her “friends” who she believes speak back to her.

At night, I hear her conversing with John Jelly Moo, the other friend I can’t hear. He lives by her side, although sometimes he’s not there. He’s real in her mind. She can see him.

Outside, she talks to the birds. Shouting or laughing, stretching her arms wide as she tries to reach up to the sky. Frustrated, she bends down to the earth, searching for worms she can whisper to. Whispering is her new favourite thing.

When the rain whips at the windows like angry tentacles, she retreats into an indoor world of supermarkets and baking, houses and boats. It’s a world I’m sometimes given restricted access to, but only when she needs a customer to visit the shop.

Toddler shop playOur house isn’t a house. It’s a secret cave, flying saucer, rowing boat on a rapid-filled river. It’s a place of adventure and magic, fairies and frogs.

Inside her den she arranges the toys around her, gathering the troops for the next installment of her mission. “Get the playdough,” I hear her whisper. “We need a cushion now,” she commands. No one moves, but she seems happy enough with their efforts. “Good girl” she mutters, before closing the curtain and buttoning herself away.

Den building

I’m on the outside, looking in. Entry to this world is strictly VIP only. You are deemed incredibly special if you’re allowed inside.

There is one game I am needed for though. It involves hair and a brush. I’m instructed to sit quietly and wait. “I make you pretty Mummy,” she nods knowingly. I submit to the pulling fingers of a toddler immersed in the new role of hairdresser.

Toddler hairdresserFor five minutes, I’m a VIP, on the other side of the curtain. I smile as I take a look around this secret place. And then I raise my head, realising I am alone again.

My toddler has gone to fight crocodiles.