I’ve not spent very much time around children since I was one myself. A few of my friends have had children of their own, but the only child I’ve spent a lot of time with is my niece who is five. She’s intelligent, hilarious, fascinating, stubborn, and absolutely beautiful. At the weekend I was braiding her hair and noticed how shiny and healthy it was (no bleach or hair straightener damage in sight!), how smooth her skin was, I took in her slightly-oversized ears, her gangly limbs (she’s going to end up being at least 5 inches taller than me), her gummy smile, her ridiculously long eyelashes and I was just marvelling at her. She’s so new and unaware of it all. We tell children every day that they’re beautiful and incredible and wonderful, that they’re strong and clever, brave, funny and special. But what happens between then and now?