This afternoon, I took both children to the local chip shop to buy dinner, hoping to tire them out along the way. They ran, skipped and jumped all the way there. Upon arriving, Jasmine noticed that a friend from school was there; they said hello, then Jas followed me into the shop while her friend played on the grass outside.
We ordered, and waited.
Sonny busied himself with "driving" his little car along the floor, but Jas kept glancing over her shoulder.
Eventually, the question came.
"Mum...can I go outside and play with Lucy?"
My reply was immediate.
"Because I don't want you running off and I don't want your brother to follow you...it's just safer if you stay in here with us."
Jas protested a little at this before realising it was pointless and perching up on a chair by the window. She looked outside, longingly, then called her friend a couple of times and waved enthusiastically.
I felt guilty, but Jas is my baby. Not yet four. I couldn't just let her go out there on her own. Could I?
I watched her and began to feel guilty. It was just the outside the shop. I could still see her and get to her if need be.
I walked to where she was sitting and whispered: "If you promise not to go where I can't see you, and you don't encourage Sonny to follow you, you can go and play with Lucy."
Jas smiled hugely, promised faithfully that she would stay where I could see her, and raced out of the door.
She was brilliant - she kept to her word and didn't go beyond the grassy area; she even stopped a couple of times to give me a smile and a wave.
At some point during all this, I realised that my baby was growing up. Of course, I knew this would happen, but it was strange to see things shifting already.
Soon, ten minutes playing with a friend within sight will be boring and the next questions will arrive. Soon, she will be too big to want a ride in the pushchair or on our shoulders. Soon, she will refuse to hold my hand in public.
But she will always, always be my baby girl.