There are two kinds of people in this world, we’ve noticed in recent months: those who look at E’s favourite toy and say “Ooh you’ve got the witch from Room on the Broom!” and those who look at E, look at me, look back at E and say “What a strange doll to have!” (The last lady to voice this looked very much like she’d never read Julia Donaldson – you can only pity such people.)
The witch has been with us since E’s second birthday and is very much a new member of the family. She comes everywhere with us – on trips into the city, to the park, to the library, days out – she would go to nursery too if E had her way but on days when I can’t persuade her to leave the witch on the sofa then she comes with us to drop E off and accompanies me to work.
She also helps out around the house – showing E how to use the toilet seat and the potty – and is rewarded with drinks of milk, bits of dinner and lots and lots of cuddles. E’s face lights up when she sees the witch and she can get anxious when the witch is not there, especially at bedtime.
Of course, the follow up question from people who aren’t aware of Room on the Broom is “What’s the witch’s name?” to which we can only reply, “She doesn’t have one.” There’s no name in the book and E hasn’t got to the stage where she names her toys yet.
There are other friends. Sometimes we’re joined by a teddy, a soft doll, a knitted doggy or a doggy that unfolds to be a cushion, as well as the witch’s nemesis – a soft red dragon toy. In our house these two are great friends, unlike the book. All of these creatures have demonstrated the toilet, all of them have been fed milk and all have accompanied us out somewhere at some point. But the witch is the constant.
E is also very interested in three soft toys that sit on a high bookshelf in her room. One is my old teddy – a worn threadbare panda – one is a womble backpack I used to wear to work, and the last is a teddy bear my mum bought for our first baby. These three have all been hugged and investigated but somehow I see them as the elder statespeople of E’s bedroom, watching over the others. It’s odd how important such things are still.