It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here at Bruton mansions. Things are taking shape, the first Christmas songs are slowly appearing, a few presents have been bought, decorations are being put together and present lists are being assembled - although Molly's is looking rather like a wish list than a present list (laptop, TV, electric guitar are top of the list).
But, we've finally got confirmation of something we'd been thinking for a long time. It's the whole Santa thing. We've been thinking for a long time that this must be the last Christmas she really believes. But every year she's surprised us by being determined to be a believer. Or maybe, like we thought last year, she's just been stringing us along, caught in that difficult period where she's suspicious, has friends who are telling her about the big Santa cover-up, and she's just playing it safe - just in case.
Over the last couple of weeks she's made a few passing references to Santa and presents and always with a knowing tone. likewise Louise and I have found that we've been a little bit lax about strictly referring to Santa when talking about presents - so maybe we all knew that this year, we could all see the elephant in the room.
And then tonight we were talking about presents and maybe, if she wants a laptop, we'd better pop along to see what sort of laptop, what size and screen she wants - that sort of thing. So we could let Santa know. Even as I said it, I knew it sounded really silly.
Which is why her reply of - "don't be stupid dad, I know there's no Santa" - wasn't really a surprise. It's not going to stop us playing along, that's most of the fun of Christmas anyway, but there's a bit of me that's sad about losing another bit of the child I had.
In her place we suddenly have Molly the teenager. Or so it seems. She may only be 11, but my word, she's doing the whole teen thing so well. It's infuriating, annoying, inflammatory beyond belief. But at the back of my mind, there's still that incredibly wonderful feeling of her turning into a great little grown-up, who, when we're not falling out, I can have a great time with. These teenage years might not be great, and god knows they're only going to get worse when she actually turns into a teenager, but she's still my molly, my gorgeous, wonderful Molly and even when I'm arguing with her, I'm still daddy, and she's still my little girl.
But this year, she'll be in on the Santa conspiracy.