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I'm no stranger to the power of imitation.

My children have a near perfect grasp of several swear words: I won’t insult your intelligence, it’s because we swear in front of them.

We like to think that, being adults, we’re somehow more discerning or entitled; but really, we just swear. 

Unlike me and their father, my children are unapologetic about swearing and delight in letting loose in near perfect context and preferably in front of an audience.

They are rare and blessed moments when our beach walk is punctuated by the dulcet tones of my daughter shouting “FOR FUCK’S SAKE HARRY!!”

Better still are the supermarket trips where Alfie stands up in the trolley (he’s not supposed to be riding in) to exclaim “BOLLOCKS!!” like some pint sized drunk arguing with some unseen adversary.

Rare moments indeed ... rare, rare, rare.

But there are other moments of imitation that whisper quietly in my ear "you don't completely suck at this".

Moments when I turn to see why my daughter has gone quiet to see her chilling on the sofa watching a cartoon and feeding her baby.

There is a famous story in breastfeeding circles about a gorilla at an Ohio zoo who was taught to nurse her baby by the local La Leche League group

I love that story to the point of sentimental tears because in a cynical world, it represents the difference that can be made by just .... being there.

When I asked Esme if she was feeding her baby, she flicked me a withering glance and nodded before turning back to her programme.

Her reaction made it clear that mine was the stupidest question she had ever heard; because what else would she be doing with a baby?

And that means I've succeeded in passing on something much more important that a robust grasp of Anglo-Saxon.

I have created an environment where nursing a baby is completely normal.

Despite living in a world of multi-billion dollar formula advertising campaigns, despite using an SNS, despite the near constant sexualisation of women’s breasts, my daughter, aged 2, knows her body is made to nourish her baby.

Regardless of where her parenting journey takes her - or if she takes a parenting journey at all - she will carry with her the deeply ingrained knowledge that her body is made to grow and nourish.

And how to make sailors blush while she's doing it.


  1. I love this. My daughter (2) also breastfeeds her baby dolls. Her brother is still in hospital after being born 10 weeks early so I express breast milk for him with a double pump. A few nights ago she placed two drinking cups onto her chest like they were breast pump breast shields and made a noise that sounded like my electric breast pump. Children copy what they see.

    1. That is so amazing it made my eyes leak! Thank you for sharing Sasha, it makes my heart glad to know another little girl will grow up so at ease with what her body is capable of.

      And I hope your little man is home soon, what an amazing gift you're giving him by expressing for him. Kudos!!!


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