Each morning Mo interrupts his pressurized work day to call home, checking if all is well - probaby ensuring that I had not succumbed to the temptation to flee to some faraway place, leaving Aisha (2) alone mid-tantrum; or checking if his princess was well and still uninjured (by her frustrated mother).
On Monday morning, instead of him being greeted by my usual frustrated/ annoyed/ irritated/ stressed out/ cautious/ anxious response (depending on Aisha's mood at the time of the call), I immediately answered his inquiry by providing him with an uncharacteristically animated account of what the budgie (our newest pet) had for breakfast, how much the guinea pigs had enjoyed the celery I'd picked for them from the garden and how Titan, our quaker parrot, was adjusting to sharing his turf (and our affections) with all our newly-acquired pets.
Only then did I realise that his question, ''So, how's everything at home?'' had been about Aisha. But he did not interrupt - probably so relieved at the pleasant voice on the other end of the line (for a change). He proceeded to ask questions and offer tips as to how to how to get the budgie to adapt more easily to its new environment.
But even in answering the question he had actually been asking, I was delighted to report that Aisha's usual morning tantrum had been averted when I'd taken her to hand-feed the guinea-pigs their celery. Within minutes she was giggling and shrieking with delight at the adorable happy sounds they were making.
It seems that having young dependent pets around is bringing out the caring, loving and nurturing side of my tantrum-throwing daughter. It seems to be diverting her focus from her own self-centredness (of which, I admit, I am the cause), to their needs. Let's hope the novelty doesn't wear off too soon.