We always knew she was bright but, at just 4 years of age, she's already on stage 7 of the Oxford Reading Tree. Her reading, writing and spelling continues to amaze her teacher and she's polite and well-mannered at school. She was even given the Head Teachers award last term and now her name is clearly written in the 'Golden Book' for eternity.
We were all so proud.
So why do we have tears almost every morning?
Cries of "I don't want to go to school!" are a constant sound. It's exhausting me.
She says she's tired or her tummy hurts. This has been going on for weeks and is getting worse. I've had her to the doctors and she even had a day off school last week because of it.
This mornings meltdown was a particularly bad one. There weren't just tears. There was kicking, screaming and barricading the door.
It was immense.
The thing is, once she's in school she's fine. She loves it in fact.
Over the past few weeks I've been trying, unsuccessfully, to get to the bottom of it.
There were talks of two Year 2 boys, who I know had been a little bit pushy with her once previously, being the cause. I spoke to her teacher who said she'd look into it.
As someone who was bullied in Primary school by two older boys myself, my heart ached for my little girl at the thought of what she may be going through.
Apparently, when MC was taken to see their teacher, she thought it was all a big joke and started being silly.
I know that I would never have thought it was a joke when I was being bullied. I actually didn't tell anyone about it for months. Like MC, my mum took me to the doctors as she thought I was ill.
I just wanted to play with my friends at break time and not be pinned up against the wall and made to play kiss chase or I'd "get a smack!"
My parents argued about my behaviour as they didn't know what was wrong. Eventually it all came out after my poor mum, at her wits end, rang the Head Master when I locked myself in the bathroom one morning and refused to go to school.
Mum still recalls that day and it's etched in my memory too. I never forget hearing Mr. Darlington's voice outside my bathroom door. "Now Heather, are you going to walk with me or am I going to have to carry you?".
I obviously walked.
I remember feeling so small sat in his green Jaguar as we drove to the school to sort the whole mess out.
No. It isn't bullying that is bothering MC. I know this because she eventually admitted to me that it had only happened once.
It isn't illness. It isn't lack of friends. It isn't a lot of things that I've been tearing my hair out over lately.
No, I think the problem may be me.
I think I've failed my daughter.
For the past year I've neglected her feelings. Because she's so bright Matt and I forget she's only 4 most of the time. I see her as a much older girl, capable and content to do her own thing whilst I apply more of my attention to her, now toddler, little brother.
Tiny Ched is my last child. Matt and I said we would only have two children. I feel a little sad that my baby boy is growing up so quickly. There will be no more newborn snuggles in our house. No more newborn smells. No more excitement of those last few days of pregnancy or first few days of new motherhood. I do however know that what awaits us is much fun and laughter watching our two children grow up together. I'm eternally grateful to have two happy, healthy and beautiful children. They have an incredible bond already and dearly love each other.
However, since the passing of Matilda Mae last February I've been a lot more attached to TC. He has also been a lot more attached to me - in fact his separation anxiety hit a peak towards the later months of last year. This, added to the fact that he's our last, has maybe had an impact on MC's behaviour.
I deeply suspect she's attention-seeking in a bid to attract more love and attention from me and I feel guilty as hell for not giving her the attention that she maybe deserves.
Don't get me wrong, I give her attention. Of course I do. She's my first born, my daughter, my gorgeously lovely little girl and I love her and her brother equally. We share hugs and kisses, we play together, we craft and bake things together and Matt and I even have a few days that we go out just the three of us so we can share extra special time with her.
I just can't help but think I could be giving her more. We moved house a few weeks before the Summer break last year. This meant that a chunk of my attention was focused on getting the house straight over the school holidays. Then after this, MC was straight into being at school all day.
At Christmas we spent a lot of time just the four of us and there was a lot of play time. Then January and she's thrust back into school.
Last Wednesday she said she was poorly when she woke up. She did look tired and, after giving her the benefit of the doubt, I rang the school to say she wouldn't be in.
A couple of hours later she came downstairs after going back to sleep.
"I feel better now" she said smiling.
"Well let's get you into school as it's only 9.15am".
She got upset.
"I want to stay home and play with you and my brother".
I first suspected attention-seeking after this comment and it's been on my mind a lot. There have also been a number of tall tales that I know aren't at all true. I know children make up stories but some where a little too wild for my liking, like she was really trying to spark a reaction from me.
Anyway, the meltdown this morning has brought it all to a head. Eventually, after convincing her to go to school today (an agreement only reached by me saying I'd go into class with her), I spoke to her teacher. Like an emotionally exhausted wreck of a mother I got upset. Standing there with my bottom lip wobbling and tears stinging my eyes I felt like even more of a failure.
We agreed to sit down with MC after school today.
The meeting went well. I first sat down alone with her teacher whilst MC played outside the classroom. Her teacher told me that they'd had a chat again during the day. MC had mentioned a couple of things about home which I knew to be untrue so I told this to the teacher. Her teacher said it sounded like she was attention-seeking. I then told her my suspicions and we brought MC back into the room.
We didn't get much more out of MC but she did suddenly mention her bother. She also said "I wish I could stay at home with mummy and TC as I miss them".
I'm now convinced that this, along with how much attention I've shown TC over the last year, has all contributed to her behaviour.
It's hard being a parent.
There's no manual for the first-born and there sure as hell isn't a manual for the second.
You can read countless books, webpages and take advice from well-meaning people but, at the end of the day, most of the time you just have to wing it and hope you're doing your best.
I know I'm not a bad mother (even though I've felt completely inept all day) but I really do think I've been failing my daughter.
Now I'm busy making plans and my mind is whirring on how to make this right again.
Next week it's half term and I have to put things right. Tonight I've already started to ignore any of her bad behaviour (not that there's been any, really) and praise her when she's least expecting it. It resulted in her asking me to bath her tonight (it's usually daddy's job) and then her wanting me to stay with her and stroke her hair whilst we read her story.
I know she wants more of my attention.
I can feel it.
Next week I want to plan a week of fun and attention just for her. I want to try and reset the balance. I want to shut off my iPhone and I want to give her my undivided attention. I know that's not going to be easy with TC around but I know I have to do something. My daughter has suffered because of me.
As a mother it's one of the worst feelings you can feel. Feeling like you've been failing them.
I know now what I must do.
Here's to next week and undoing the failings.
Here's to being a better mother.
Here's to, I hope, a happier daughter.
That's the most important thing of all.