Amelie’s favourite thing at the moment is The Highway Rat. She was already familiar with the excellent book but it’s fair to say that the brilliant TV adaptation at Christmas has piqued her interest.
As a result, it’s the first story she has at bedtime every night and she demands to watch the animation at least three times a day too. This is great for her literacy, but I’m starting to witness a darker side. I think she idolises the eponymous rodent.
Just in case you don’t know the story, it’s pretty self explanatory. An Adam Ant wannabe rat bullies other animals into handing over their food. He gets his comeuppance, of course, but only after getting rather rotund.
Amelie goes to sleep and wakes up quoting favourite lines so The Highway Rat’s antics are very much in her thoughts all the time. “The Highway Rat was a baddie. The Highway Rat was a beast” is her favourite.
Although, somewhat alarmingly, she says this with a tone that indicates admiration rather than disdain. Then only this morning, she rather disturbingly woke us with a shrill “I’m coming to take them… take them… take them!”
It’s not just quoting him though. Oh no. She’s starting to behave like him too. She wanders around the house with a swagger that suggests she thinks she owns the place. This is punctuated by stopping us to issue her demands. These are, of course, for any food we happen to have. And, yes, she has always been given her food beforehand.
Then there are the resultant battles at mealtimes. She used to quite happily eat most of the things she was given, but now it’s more of a lottery. Why? Because she wants the things the pilfering vermin does. Pastries, puddings, chocolate, cake. That kind of fare. Basically, anything that could give her diabetes.
I’m not levelling any blame with Julia Donaldson or Axel Scheffler here, you understand. Clearly, The Highway Rat is a tale that warns of the twin evils of bullying and gluttony. It also extols the virtues of healthy eating via the food that the other creatures choose. Amelie has just failed to grasp the subplot. Silly toddler!
So what am I going to do to counteract this behaviour? Well, logically, she needs to complete the journey that the greedy robber did. I’ll bypass putting her in a dark, echoing cave as that’s a bit harsh, but I’ve already got her sweeping the kitchen floor…