From the start, school was wrong for Tiger. When she, Squirrel and Shark were aged three, I took them to a local nursery group to 'stay and play'.
So much went wrong, I barely know where to start. But for Tiger, the experience was fretful and troubling. She did not understand what she could do and what she could not. She could not understand the rhythms of the day. She was scared of the toilets and of the rough and tumble that went on in the corners of the rooms.
And so much was puzzling. The staff led her outside to an area they called the garden. The garden was an asphalt yard with toys, tumbling mat and a plastic slide. There was no grass, no soil, no trees. The bushes were locked away on the other side of the nursery school fence where the children could not reach them. The leaves were dense and hard and prickly. They discouraged anyone from climbing in. Or out.
After a few days when, against my better judgement, I lured Tiger there, she was more reluctant to go, and it was harder to make her. She said, in a louder and louder voice, that she hated nursery, that she didn't want to go, that she was frightened to be there and wanted to come home. At first I probably tried not to listen. But eventually I had to, and I wondered why I was trying to force her when it clearly wasn't helping her, or me.
And then we decided. We gradually withdrew from nursery. All the other children slipped away into black and grey and white uniforms. We chose not to send Tiger and her sisters to school. I took Tiger, Shark and Squirrel off to the woods and fields and playgrounds to catch the last of that year's summer sunshine.
Today The Independent publishes this headline. For Tiger, this was true.
Tiger is happily at the stables, learning how to ride. This is the first time she's stayed away from home, and even though it is merely a few miles along the road, the leap in her confidence and self assurance is as high as the sky.
For Tiger, childhood takes a long time. And I feel content that it should.
And if you are wondering what on earth can have happened to Shark and Squirrel today, I'll tell you. Shark is plunged into a world of sea stories. And Squirrel is playing in the wood.