AS she toddles joyfully towards her third birthday next month, Chloe's imagination is becoming ever more magical.

Our little granddaughter loves to direct and act out fairytales, with herself in the starring role, whether it's a princess, a unicorn or her current favourite – a mermaid.

When she was taken for a haircut the other day, she plonked herself in the same chair in which her Daddy had demanded a Noddy haircut 25 years ago. "Me want an Awiel haircut please, Caitwin," she declared, confidently.

Ariel is the Little Mermaid, of course. Caitlin is the hairdresser on dry land tasked with creating a haircut that's better down where it's wetter, under the sea.

Naturally, we all have to join in with these adventures with Chloe orchestrating affairs by telling us what roles we have to play.

A little while back, before she became obsessed with being a mermaid, she was in the garden, playing in a pop-up children's castle kindly passed onto us by a neighbour whose own granddaughter had grown out of it.

Chloe was a self-appointed beautiful princess and her Daddy was cast in the role of a dashing knight who'd come to rescue her from the castle. She'd been imprisoned by The Wicked Witch played by Grandma (I'm saying nothing), while a fire-breathing dragon (Uncle Max) was guarding the entrance with a fearsome roar.

Feeling a bit left out, I poked my head through the castle window: "What about me?" I asked Princess Chloe.

She thought about it for a few seconds and I set my heart on being a handsome prince, a big friendly giant, a mercurial wizard, or even a mighty black stallion.

"You can be the oaf, Grandad," she declared.

I can't help thinking it's a role I was born to play.


ALL of this reminds me of a story passed on by a teacher some years back.

In order to expand her pupils' vocabulary, she had a "magic word of the week".

The magic word was written on the blackboard and the children had to look it up in the dictionary before including it in a story.

The magic word this particular week was "frugal" and one little girl in the class discovered that it meant "good at saving".

This is how her story went: "The princess was locked in the castle. She looked out of the window and the prince was riding past on his big black horse. "Frugal me, frugal me," she shouted out of the window. So he frugalled her and they lived happily ever after."


GRANDDAUGHTER Chloe was having breakfast.

"You eating toast, Daddy?" she asked.

"Yes, Chloe," replied her Daddy. "Are you going to steal my toast?"

"No, Daddy," came the reply. "Me going to SHARE it."