It is often said of only children that they spend a disproportionately large amount of time with adults and as a consequence develop their ability to communicate with adults much more quickly than they develop the ability to communicate with children of their own age.
I’m not certain if this is the case with you but Nana and I spend two whole days with you when we mind you. You spend all day Thursday with your mum and I pick you up from “school” on Friday and your dad I spend Saturday and Sunday mornings with you at soccer and swimming and that’s quite a lot of grown-up time.
During your time with Nana and me, you are very much part of our grown-up family.
A couple of nights ago, you were sitting in the bath when I put some more hot water in the bath because it was getting cold. You had complained that the bath was not hot enough despite the fact you were turning decidedly pink.
“If you think the bath is too cold, then you should get out and put on your warm pyjamas.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
Now I am not certain what was going on in your head and am equally certain that you wouldn’t have been able to explain it to me. But I think you expected that the logic of making the bath warm was putting more hot water in it was clear and that you expected that I would understand and follow that logic.
I recount this simply because it is a quite different strategy from that of bellowing your head off when you’re not getting your own way. You never cease to amaze me.
Last week, we were driving to the Prahran Market and I was sitting in the back with you in your car seat. You were holding your two armrests and using them as levers. I asked you if you were helping Nana to steer the car. You said you were. And then you off. You were flying an aeroplane. We were off to Perth to see Nana and Papa Tresham. And then it was a speedboat. And it was a house.
“What do we call a house that we can drive?” I asked, thinking if he’s smart he’ll say “a caravan”.
” A magic driving house.”
Silly, prosaic grandfather.
Nana recently bought you a small Lego fire engine and with an extension ladder on a trailer, a motorbike with a daring fireman called Winton who has an axe and a fire squirter and a house that has fire on its roof and an oven inside that has caught fire.
It’s brilliant and you are absolutely fascinated. Fireman Winton has spent a whole day driving his motorbike and putting out fires. The motorbike has been named Mercury.
Last night, I said, not for the first time, “Look there is a fire on the roof.”
And you asked, not for the first time, “But why?”
“Well, it could be that a firebird has dropped some fire on the roof.”
“Or it could be a fire aeroplane. I had better look it up on my Internet.”
With that you went off and got a book about rescue vehicles that was about the size of an iPad (interestingly not an iPad although one was available). You sat down at the table where the house was burning and read the book from cover to cover.
When you had finished you said, “I better ring up the airport.” You held your finger and thumb up to your mouth and ear and pretended to make a phone call.
” Hello, airport. Your aeroplane is dropping fire on a house.” You turned to me and said, “I told him to stop, Papa.”
We have an interesting way of sharing narratives. I had fondly imagined that I would tell you stories and you would sit fascinated by The Three Little Pigs etc. You were for a while.
But generally that idea hasn’t worked out well.
I was telling you a story in the bath. I think it was Winton Jack and the Beanstalk. I had only just got into the story when you interrupted, “And Winton’s daddy came up the beanstalk too.”
“Who’s telling this story?”
And that pretty much sums it stories at 170 Mary Street, shared narrative, plenty of action, and a hero called Winton.
Recently, we had Winton and the Iceberg (at your request). Now, I have some clue about this one because Nana has read you the story of the Titanic. So once the ship had struck the iceberg, you took over the story and went below decks with your tools and mended the hole and got a large pump and pumped the ship dry so that it could sail away.
Happily ever after.