Demented mum: Perfectly plaited girl was the shape of things to come
THE effortless way she does it holds you spellbound. Putting on her make-up as she gets ready for school these days is a rapid and efficient process for the Wolverine; the effect is one of smooth flawlessness.
She's not allowed to wear make-up in class but she puts it on so professionally you wouldn't even know it was there -- she just looks stunning.
It's much the same process with the hair: long, straight and blonde -- yet it's coiled and twisted into sophisticated up-styles with a dexterity you can only dream of.
Really all you can do is gaze in wonder as, after a few efficient twists in front of a mirror, the Wolverine is ready for the fanciest society cocktail party.
And you, the mother, can take credit for none of it.
She's always known better than to ask you for advice since the day when, as a newly fledged junior infant, she informed you en route to school that her parting was crooked, and one plait was longer than the other.
She would -- this five-year-old announced, gazing up at you with round, green, condemnatory eyes -- be doing her hair by her own self in future.
"You're good at lots of other things, Mum," she said, giving the offending plait a flick, "just not much use with hair."
She was always a dab hand at styling her locks; the proficiency with the make-up came later. But how? You can't imagine.
Maybe it's that Bobbi Brown manual you bought her last Christmas which is often to be seen lurking, bereft of its cover, its pages crumpled, under a tangle of underwear in the reeking vermin's nest that used to be your daughter's version of a pink princess bedroom.
It has certainly received more attention than, for example, the Wolverine's science book.
A quick flick through it proves that there's plenty of advice in there, most of which is, alas, Greek to you, and presumably requiring skills that are completely beyond your fumbling hands.
But of course, you reassure yourself, even if you could understand the make-up tips, even if you knew where to get the right sort of cosmetics and how to make use of them, you'd never find the time.
That, you insist to yourself, can only be one of the major differences between your daughter and you, between ages 16 and 46.
At 16 you don't need a lot of time but you have lashings of it to spend on yourself. At 46 you haven't a minute, but, as the Wolverine no doubt mutters to herself, boy do you need it.