His impish face told the story. In the corner, past his toddling legs, the evidence lay in a twisted heap. The days of bopping around the lounge room to old rock and roll records were over in one short lapse of concentration.
Twenty months of laughter, wakeful nights, nappy changes and tears are priceless, yet it will be bliss when the boy grows big enough to be careful with precious things. When does that happen? Is there some miracle age when the child becomes aware that it is not nice to stuff left-overs down the lining of the couch, or to pour ‘popper-juice’ in the CD slot of daddy’s computer? I hope so.
It is nice to think your child will grow as responsible and caring as the
wonderful people in storybooks. You know the ones. They have smug smiles and are never grouchy when their offspring go feral. The next two years are going to be defining for our boy. In this time he will learn to talk, read, and pick violent cartoons to watch before mum and dad wake up and switch over to the Tele-tubby channel. He will learn to steal the lollies out of big sister's lunch box, and leave the freezer door open to defrost the monthly shopping.
For now though, it is enough that he has learned to climb onto any item of furniture lower than the ceiling. This discovery has opened windows of opportunity. Our boy takes his little chair, and by utilising the laws of physics, can open any cupboard, reach anything porcelain, and is drawn magnetically to the delicate. He has impeccable taste in glassware. It is a well-known fact that a child under the age of three can detect and procure fine crystal as neatly as any French pig can find a truffle.
Our son drops the stereo arm onto the coffee table and scarpers off, attempting to avoid our wrath. He can run but he has not yet learned to hide very well.
Another puzzle of early childhood has to be the amount of damage possible in under a minute. It would be interesting to get the statistics for annual toddler damage in Australia. Each year, about 18000 children celebrate surviving to the age of two. If the average tot between the ages of one and four trashes one hundred dollars worth of household items in a year, that amounts to one million eight hundred thousand dollars, or $5.4 million over the three years! No wonder the retail industry loves our kids!
We need to rein in the negative speculations now and look across the room to the banana-smeared face of our little boy. He is giving us one of those sly, masterful grins. How do we know that this is only the beginning? It was only a quick flip of mum’s apron since the smirk was on my face under all that sticky juice. Then it was another generation of blond locks to tussle on the way past, and another pink bottom to whack when the occasion arose.
There is no time for more wondering because he is off again, across the room, past our reaching fingers and down the hallway to the laundry. As we pursue the waist high wrecking ball down the corridor, we hear our basket of neatly folded clean clothes explode on the moist tiles, followed by the solemn declaration.