I have, many times, been in bad relationships. Relationships where the boy just flat out didn't like me and treated me badly and made me miserable. But I never left because I used to be one of those people who secretly loved the drama of it all and because when you are with someone who gets you accustomed to being treated badly, when they do something nice you are ten times more overjoyed than you should be. You nurse little scraps of affection. I'm not proud of it.
I have been thinking about this a lot because Kitty is being a bit of a pain in the arse at the moment. She is 14 months old and still can't walk and her molars are coming through and she's got a cold and she's just being unusually unbearable.
She wants EVERYTHING. She wants to be picked up, no put down, she wants to sit on this narrow windowsill and play with the catflap. She wants the cat - SHE WANTS THE CAT! PLEASE I WANT THE CAT. Now she wants to get down and walk, walk, stumble, walk walk. Now she wants to stand at this cupboard and open and close the door. Open, close, open, close, open, close. Open. Close. Now she wants to take out and smash the china PLEASE LET ME SMASH THE CHINA I WANT TO SMASH THE CHINA. Now she wants to be picked up! Down! Up! Down. She wants to run after the ball and kick it but she can't run or really kick. Now she wants to screw and unscrew the lid on this tube of moisturiser but she doesn't understand how the screw mechanism works. RAGE! Now I want to be picked up and go somewhere to do something but I CANNOT EXPLAIN WHAT IT IS SO I AM JUST GOING TO GO RED AND GO "EEEEEEEHHRH? MMMMMMOOOO?! EHHH EHHH EHHHHHHH?!"
And that represents probably less than five minutes in the life of Kitty Coren at the moment. It's pretty dementing. My friend R encapsulated the same experience that she is having with her otherwise impeccably-behaved toddler, who is 16 months old. "It drives me a bit mad. Endless pointing, pointing, pointing. Ehhh, ehhhh, ehhh. Never happy. Thank god for bedtime," she says. Another friend, L, who has three children, says "Yes it's that angry Japanese tourist thing that toddlers do. It's miserable."
And while all this made me feel a lot better - my child is not peculiarly awful, she is just entering the famously nightmarish toddler stage - it has brought back to me the experience of having a really shitty boyfriend.
As with a bad boyfriend, I continue to coo at her and say "come on then, pumpkin, what's up with you?" in the hope that she will be mollified by my dote. And, as with a bad boyfriend, when she does something - anything - nice: crawls on my lap to bash her snotty face against my cheek in the parody of a kiss, or decides after two months of spitting Calpol out that she is going to sip it nicely from the spoon and say "num num" afterwards - I am beside myself with joy.
"What a good girl you are!" I shriek. And I feel such a fool.
Anyway I made this for her lunch today - not that she would suffer to eat more than a few spoonfuls of it, the ingrate - and it was terrific and a great thing to do with the new Jersey Royals that are coming through at the moment.
Babies like this (she did eat quite a lot in the end) or it's a brilliant starter or brunch.
Kitty's potato hash
However many new potatoes you want per person
1 egg pp
handful peas pp
handful cheese pp
double cream, just to slop over
salt and pepper
Pre-heat your oven to 200C
1 Boil your Jersey Royals for 20 mins then tip into a baking dish and lightly crush with a fork.
2 Defrost some peas in the bowl with boiling water for a few minutes and add to the pan.
3 Scatter over cheese and drizzle over some cream until things are wet but not soaking. Season and stir together.
5 Crack in your eggs and bake in the oven for about 10-15 mins or until the eggs are set.
The sky's the limit in terms of ingredients, here. Chop in some bacon if you like, or mint, or chorizo or mushrooms or anything. Then make an appointment to get yourself sterilised.