London - By any measure, it was an astonishing performance: powerful, manipulative, convincing and unreservedly compelling. The audience was clearly captivated and, by the end of the monologue, utterly subjugated.
Only the audience in this case wasn’t a clutch of cinema-goers or theatre buffs.
Rather, it was my husband, Martin, now cooing in sympathy as he listened to (and blithely accepted) our seven-year-old daughter’s version of a rather spectacular row she’d had with me before he had arrived home from work that evening.
Our spat had exploded over the supper table, as Sophie messed with her food, refused to sit on her chair properly, answered me back, then “accidentally” sent her shepherd’s pie tipping to the floor.
By the time Daddy arrived home, she was in tears and I was resisting the urge to wrench all the hair from my head in frustration.
“She’s been horrible,” I began, begging for support before he’d even taken his key out of the front door. “Her behaviour is just awful tonight. Do something.”
It was then that Sophie began her show-stopping soliloquy, ratcheting up the howling and bawling as she ran into her father’s arms before explaining, between hiccupping sobs, why I was the villain of the piece.
“I was sitting properly, she’s just in a bad mood...”
Her father melted. Cooing words of comfort and wrapping her in his arms, he then took the little devil off to his study to have a “chat” about what had been going on.
With my frustration levels at boiling point, I heard the rustling of sweet wrappers and stomped off to my Zumba class. I know when I’m beaten.
And I am. Frequently. For, since Sophie was born, arriving as she did after her three brothers, it has been clear I am no longer Female Number One in my husband’s eyes.
My position in his affections has been radically downgraded by the birth of our daughter.
It’s a demotion that’s required some getting used to, particularly since the combination of Martin and our three sons had hitherto conferred on me the position of Queen Bee. Now, I’m just a second-rate worker drone.
It’s a situation Victoria Beckham may also have to start getting used to, now that she’s the mother of Harper Seven, a bouncing baby girl who is all cute hair bands and gurgle faces.
You have only to look at pictures of doting dad David, carefully carrying his longed-for daughter in and out of his wife’s recent fashion shows, to see which girl will always come first for him in future.
It doesn’t matter how clever, successful, polished or thin Posh remains. When it comes to show-downs between wife and daughter, I’ll wager he’ll always side with his little girl.
As David said in an interview recently: “Harper is seven months old now. I can’t even look at her without welling up.
“After having three boys, you just assume that you’re going to have another boy, but when we got told she was a little girl, it was amazing.”
And it’s that amazement which partly explains why, like my husband, the soccer star may now refuse to put wifely expectations before daughterly demands. Like me, Victoria - who has long been the female axis of the family - will have no choice but to readjust.
You could, of course, argue that a father will always love his children more than his spouse, whatever their gender. That’s the natural way of things: paternal love at its most instinctive and unconditional.
Perhaps in this era of the dysfunctional family, where fathers often absent themselves from child-rearing even before the post-coital cigarettes are smoked, I should be thrilled that my husband takes his duties so seriously - even if they do consign me to runner-up. As I write this, Sophie has come downstairs for the 14th time this evening. “Please go to bed,” I hiss, trying to cling on to my fast- dwindling reserves of patience.
She throws her father an injured look then wobbles her lower lip, and he responds on cue. Scooping her in his arms, she wins extra cuddle time, tossing me a triumphant look over his shoulder.
This is how life is now. They collude - he subconsciously, she strategically.
The other week, at her demand, he even took her shopping for clothes. They came back with a meringue-style orange satin dress from TK Maxx.
“What is that?” I queried. Martin shrugged helplessly. “She wanted it.” (Not the response he had given me when I pointed out Kate Middleton’s Hobbs coat and mumbled about how much I’d love one, too.)
Later that night, after Sophie had been playing for a long time in the bath, I told her it was time for her to get out.
Only after I’d repeated the request endless times did she comply, pulling at the towel I held out before her.
Missing her footing, she fell lightly to the floor. Refusing my attempts to scoop her up, she howled: “DADDY!”
His response? He asked me what on earth I’d done. Since when was my default position that of the villain?
So what creates this extraordinary bond, one which excludes and displaces the woman who created this revered daughter - and loves them both to distraction?
In my husband’s case, it was the fact, that, like the Beckhams, he already had three sons. Moreover, he is one of three boys himself. Having a daughter seemed elusive, alien but, when it happened, utterly overwhelming.
I also think that as two females together, my daughter and I inevitably clash. I’m the bad one who makes her finish her broccoli, enforces bedtime, and drags her away from the television when there is homework to be done.
When her father appears in the evening, he is her knight in shining armour.
Do I feel jealous? I’ve contemplated this so many times, but I think not. On one level, I’m glad my husband is so overwhelmingly loving and protective towards our little girl.
But I’d be lying if I didn’t confess to feelings of frustration, too. Frustration that this miniature manipulator and pretty despot intuitively understands her father’s fathomless and unconditional love for her, and uses it to score points over me.
She knows when to appear vulnerable, and how to exert her power.
At just seven, she has already mastered the feminine arts. My sweet, dainty little Sophie loves ballet shoes, rummaging in my make-up bag, playing with dolls and ribbons, and spending hours arranging her hair in front of the mirror.
And it is that femininity which has secured Martin’s implacable devotion and snookered me clearly into second place.
I also feel frustrated that my husband’s love for our daughter may have eroded his devotion to me.
It seems I have no choice but to gracefully accept that my daughter now reigns supreme over the kingdom of my husband’s heart - but I have not given up hope for the future.
At the moment, Sophie is still a cute, sweet little girl, all button-nose and pigtails.
But wait until that first whiff of adolescence prevails, when doors are slammed, curfews broken and tears shed.
Then, it might be a very different story, and so I am keeping my powder dry in anticipation.
Perhaps that will be the moment to suggest to my darling husband that I am ready to be reinstated on the throne. - Daily Mail
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