Adventures with the Toddler – Chapter Fourteen: The Birds

I never really listened to my mother when I was young. Well, I mean, I heard the words she said but kind of figured she knew nothing about being young. Not listening to her advice mostly just resulted in heartache –

“I told you she was wrong for you.”

“Gawd! I know. Okay. Get off my case.”

“I told you she was too old for you…”

“Gawd! I know. Okay. Get off my case.”

“I told you she was nuts.”

“Gawd. I know. Okay. Get off my case.”

“What in the world where you thinking there.”

“Well…”

“Shut-up.”

But then again – happily ever after wasn’t my angle in my youth.

This weekend past, however – my mother told me, the wife and the toddler not to turn right out the garden gate.

“Don’t turn right out the garden gate.”

“Oh. Why?”

“Because there’s a swooping Magpie! He nearly got me. I bent over to tie up my shoe and he went right over me.”

“Good to know,” says I and promptly grab an umbrella with which to protect the wife and toddler from the rain and a potential Hitchcockian event.

Myself and the wife follow our marching toddler across the wet back-garden as it sings the Old McDonald farm song.

“Turn left out of the gate,” came the warning voice of my mother as she called from the back step.

“Gawd! I know!”

At the gate, the wife and toddler turned right.

What rebellion is this?

“Oi, you heard mum, swooping magpies be that-a-way.” Then I spot the golden gumboots on the toddler – “oh hell no.”

“It wants to jump in muddy puddles and the best puddles are across the bridge in the bush.”

“But that means we’re turning right and we’ve been warned not to do that. Bugger what it wants. Let’s go this way.”

“It wants muddy-puddles.”

“I want a bunch of stuff I don’t have. Like money. Do you remember that stuff?”

“Da. Muddy puddles. Da. Please. Jump in muddy puddles.”

“Toddler person – there are swooping magpies that will carry you away. They will eat you, like that Moose you were upset about in that doco your mum showed you.”

“Don’t tell her that.”

“Muddy puddles! Da, let’s find muddy puddles.”

Like the moron I am, I raise the umbrella and steer my family to the right out the garden gate. For me to hold an umbrella is a big deal as some of you will know. But there I am, dutiful da, holding a banner of protection over the toddler should any feather-pecker want to mess with it on its search for muddy puddles.

The muddy puddle search yielded bugger all. There were no muddy puddles in which the toddler could leap about in. But whilst on the subject of muddy puddle jumping – it is worth mentioning the concentration – nay! the dedication, focus and insight the toddler puts into jumping into a muddy puddle. I’ve seen Olympic athletes win with less preparation.

Puddle jumping should be a sport. There is the arrival to the puddle. The puddle is checked for depth, muddiness, puddleiness and I believe splashiness. Then the feet are brought together at the very edge of the puddle and the knees are thus bent, elbows should be brought back and tucked into the body. Then – there’s a moment that passes between toddler and the soon to be conquered muddy puddle, before the toddler launches itself a full inch-and-a-half into the air to land with a slight splosh and a massive grin. It’s a thing to behold and for some reason makes me stupidly happy. Then the whole ritual is repeated at each puddle. This can go on all day after a good bout of rain. All. Day.

So – without all of that going on, it was just a small family of three searching a scraggy bush path with nary a muddy puddle.

“Well, let’s go the market,” suggests I.

The wife and toddler were in agreement. We began to head back and then it happened! I got swooped and bitten by a frigging Magpie. I saw the hate writ large on his feathery face as he circled back to finish me off. I man-squealed as I grabbed at my missing ear and the wife lost her damn mind she was laughing so hard. The toddler – well the toddler just kept asking, “what happened mama, what happened?” as with all my manly strength I hustled the wife (carried the wife) and toddler across the little wooden bridge as I fumbled with the umbrella to get them safe and under cover. Graceful like a gazelle.

Once safe, I examined my poor throbbing ear. The wife couldn’t breathe as she was still laughing too hard. I kept touching my sore ear and making the ‘ouch’ sound – which made her laugh harder which in turn made the toddler laugh.

I tried to listen to my mother, I really did, but I got steered wrong.

“I told you to turn left.”

“Gawd! Okay. I know.”

INT. KITCHEN – MORNING

Da cracks eggs into a bowl. The toddler wanders in making an odd squeaking sound. It’s as though its hips need oiling as it climbs up on the stool I made for it. It rarely uses it as a stool anymore now that I made it a ladder. It climbs to the top of its ladder-stool and plops its bum on the kitchen bench to swing its legs over the side. Then it squeaks again.

“G’Day.” The toddler says as it munches on an unknown rubber teat that is the cause of the squeaking.

Da pauses in his egg cracking to extract the rubber teat from the toddlers head with a pop. “What is this?” I ask as I turn the thing in my fingers.

“G’day,” the toddler says again with a grin.”

“G’day. But you need to say g’day mate.”

“day mate.”

“It’s g’day mate.”

“day mate.”

“Close enough.”

The toddler looks into the bowl of eggs.

“No like yolks da.”

“I remember.”

I start to spread the butter on the toast and catch a glimpse of the toddler with its foot in its mouth. It’s gnawing like hell, like a dog with a bone. Its wild eyes meet mine across its foot and it appears to be tying to bite a toe off.

“What are you doing?” I get in for a closer look to see it gnawing on its toenails. “Would you like me to trim those for you?”

It answers with a grunt as it keeps on chewing.

“I can put a couple of clippings in the eggs if you want to keep chewing on them.

The toddler shakes its head and drops its foot. “No thanks da.”

“Where are you going?”

“Go watch Daniel Tiger.”

I physically shiver.

“Ciao,” it says as it leaves the kitchen.

Ciao?

Just when I think the toddler can’t outdo itself – it hands me its sippy-cup, pulls up its nappy and says “you look here now, da”.

Those of you who know me, know I have certain issues around the areas of umbrellas, things with tentacles and anything gross. So when the toddler goes searching in its head for something elusive, then pulls out a lump of what it thinks is gold, I have to fight to stop myself from spewing. However, when it pops the tasty morsel in its mouth and smiles – I lose my lunch. The wife actively encourages the toddler to hand me its boogers; knowing full well I’ll have a fit and flap my hands as I try to fly away from the incoming contaminated finger. This is something the wife finds great amusement in and of course now the toddler thinks it’s great sport and the game of, wipe a booger on da, was thus born. This is a game that is played at any time in any venue, be it in the living room when da is handed a perfectly shaped booger that has been kneaded, or simply has a surprise slimy one wiped onto his pants as he watches telly. I do not like to play this game and scarper anytime I see the toddler start a search within its head – as I now know, no matter how much hand flapping and neck tensing I do – I simply cannot fly.

Gross stuff aside – the toddler and I have been on a winning streak of late. It wakes up, then wakes us by announcing “it’s morning!” and that it wants a “nana” and to watch the “nana’s “. But, of late, it has been more considerate and tells its mother “you rest mama, da will make me breakfast.”

Da does make it breakfast. Even though there was another 30 minutes until da’s alarm was set to activate, he uses this time to bond with the toddler, grunt, try to read Twitter through blurred eyesight and ignore the banana detectives song on the TV.

Da delivers the toddler an egg white – uncooked toast (yes it’s a thing), a banana that has been peeled without any stringy bits left, cut perfectly in half and served on a plate with a fork and a freshly-filled sippy-cup of water.

The toddler surveys its breakfast and if it approves, gives a simple “thank you da.”

Lately, I have been invited to sit beside it as I have my own breakfast. We sit on the couch and either watch Banana’s in Pyjamas or just chat.

“What you having da?”

“Black coffee and two eggs.” A few moments roll by. “How’s your breakfast?”

“Good.”

“Excellent.”

“Da.”

“Yes darling.”

“Where’s mama?”

“In bed. It’s very early.”

The toddler accepts this.”

“Da?”

“Yes darling.”

“Peanut butter sandwich?” as it hands me its plate.

“Sure.”

I go and make its sandwich and consider having another coffee as it wanders in after me and climbs on its jungle-gym stool. It’s little arms grab me and it says “I really miss you da. You go work today?”

“I do go to work today.”

As the blond head hits my chest and it gives me a hug, I catch our reflection in the kitchen window. I ignore all but the awesome small human hugging me, putting all its weight into me.

“You play Duplo with me?”

It looks into my face and the things like responsibility and always being that guy are the first things to surface. But then there was another voice…

“Sure. Let’s play Duplo.”

So we did, and we made a house on a farm where the rabbit got to drive the tractor and the toilet was on the roof. I then went to work happy, with a dozen kisses I had to catch as I was making my way out the door and one final hug.

“Have a good day da,” said the toddler.

I had a bloody great day.

FUN FACT: Magpie bites hurt.

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