MARCH, 2012: My wife is lying down as the sonographer squirts the cool gel and starts scanning. It’s the sexing scan of our third child; we already have two boys, and although we don’t want to admit it, it’d be great if this one was a girl. I’m looking intently at the screen, my eyes flitting occasionally back to the sonographer’s assistant, who looks a bit like Jess Ennis. Don’t judge me.
“You’re having a girl,” says the sonographer, and we’re over the moon. A daughter, I think. A delicate, elegant, baby girl.
Almost two years later I watch, a look of mild disgust on my face, as my daughter leans to one side and lets out a rasping fart. The visions of pretty dresses and daintiness which used to fill my mind have long since evaporated in a puff of smoke. Stinky, revolting butt-smoke.
We have two boys and a girl, but we might as well have three boys. After triumphantly dropping her fart Jemima grins some kind of weird, toothy smile and emits a laugh which wouldn’t sound out of place behind the bar of the Old Vic.
What I’m trying to say is this: my little girl is anything but girly. Mind you, I’m not sure why I expected anything else when she has to compete with two older brothers every day. And compete she does; if they ever dare take anything off her she will scream and scratch until – ashen-faced – they give it back. She will climb onto the settee and wrestle my three-year-old, clambering over his face whilst he yells in protest. Both of these things she learned from her mother.
She shows no mercy. Sometimes I’ll be wrestling with my two sons on the living room floor and she’ll just get stuck in, no fear, slapping my face, dribbling in my eye.
But none of this is a problem. In fact, I quite like the idea of my daughter being a tomboy, someone who you can share a beer with whilst watching the football (when she’s old enough to have alcohol, of course, although I wouldn’t be surprised if I found a stash of hooch under her cot). She won’t take any stick from anyone, and will be able to stand up for herself. She’ll be comfortable around boys, and instead of being shy and bashful she’ll be loud, charismatic and butch.
I’d always assumed that when all my kids were a bit older my two boys would look after Jemima at school: keep an eye out for her, make sure she’s okay, that kind of thing. But, having just witnessed my seventeen-month-old daughter throwing some kind of Hulk Hogan-style wrestling move on her six-year-old brother whilst he tries to watch CBBC, I think it’ll be the other way round.