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Saturday 10am #3

Thomas James Hobby is only two for three more weeks. (‘I’m not two,’ he protests, ‘I’m just Thomas.’) I found an entry in my diary from November: ‘Thomas: Portrait at two years, two months’. He’s changed a lot since then, but here it is, in part:

When I took him to Read Park across Albany Hwy the other day, he led me over to a little perch in the exercise playground and made me sit down. Then he went across to the perch facing it a few metres away and sat down there. He just wanted us both sitting down for a while on our perches.

He now has two Hot Wheels cars and when he hasn’t lost them, he clutches them and refuses to let them go, even if he’s trying to go down the little slide we’ve set up in the lounge or trying to walk down the street.

Confession of a bad parent: the toy cars were a mistake. He soon worked out that they were at Coles (and not Woolworths) and built up quite a collection with strategic crying. In one sense $2.50 is a small fee to pay for a peaceful shopping trip, but choosing one has become an ordeal. He has my disease: he is ambivalent about choices and faced with having to narrow down what he wants to one, he can’t and he cries or changes his mind.

He has been telling anyone who will listen this week, ‘A robber stole my cars.’ This sounds unlikely, but is true. I’d packed his beloved collection of toy cars in a blue lunchbox and put it in my backpack on Sunday night when we bravely attempted going to Theo’s Pizza (pizza being one of his main food groups, confession #2).  The said robber relieved us of my backpack and Thomas’s toy cars when we forgot to lock the car that night. (We’re still not used to the novelty of an electronically locking car.) Thomas is down to the toy cars he didn’t choose to take to pizza that night, which he has taken very well, excited as he is by his close encounter with a robber.

A teacher we know is quick to correct his malapropisms; I am guilty of enjoying them. (Except for ‘Bum’ for Mum, I definitely didn’t enjoy that one, and it was an enduring one.) TV is ‘TB”; rabbit is “brabbit”; “Daddy works in the other bribary” (library). Three of the most important concepts in his world he named himself early on: bananas, once his favourite food (‘woh-wohs’); caterpillars (‘pah-pahs’); and helicopters (‘doh-dohs’). First time I heard the latter term, we were in the aforementioned Read Park when a helicopter came overhead and he started yelling ‘Doh-doh, doh-doh, doh-doh!’ Nicole pointed out the significance of helicopters in the world of a two year old; they appear to save the day in a good portion of television he’d seen, including Fireman Sam (‘Fire Sam’), Thomas and Friends (‘I’m not a train’), Peppa Pig, and even Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom. The helicopter in Thomas and Friends is called Harold and a few months ago Thomas moved on from doh-doh to start calling helicopters ‘haroldopters’. Recently ‘kitchen’ has been ‘chicken’, as in ‘Dad’s making a pup of tea in the chicken’. It is hard to correct this one with a straight face. He was late to talk; we dodged a referral to a specialist, and as we believed would happen all along, he just started a great torrent of speech all at once when we were on holidays in Denmark in November last year.

What delights me about a two year old’s life is the significance of small things. His excitement about strawberries, quiches, Freddo Frogs, or seeing skyscrapers ahead and calling out gleefully, ‘City, city!’. The flip-side is the tantrums when he doesn’t want to leave the park even after we’ve been there an hour, or his absolute determination not to wear trousers today: he dislikes small things as strongly as he loves them. I don’t think anyone could call him an easy child, but he’s an enthusiastic, determined, and loving one.

Being three will be unimaginably new and different for him. Sometimes he goes up to stroke Nicole’s tummy and says hello to his baby sister. ‘Baby sister come out?’ he asks. But not yet, not till the end of August. It’s felt a marathon to reach nearly-three with him, and another child means starting again. But it also means a chance, vicariously, for me to experience being two again. And surely a two year old’s view of the world is an important one, for one thing a corrective to the accretions and distortions of this thirty-seven year old.