“There is this theory of the Moebius. A twist in the fabric of space where time becomes a loop from which there is no escape. So when we reach that point, whatever happened will happen again.”
This was what Worf and Geordi Le Forge in Star Trek, Next Generation said when they encounter a vortex that might have captured the Enterprise and her crew. It was also sampled by Orbital to produce one of my favourite tunes as a student.
But it could very easily have been said about any given day, game or meal that I experience with my 2-and-a-half-year-old son, Mr. T.
The games that he plays always follow the same patterns and everything must be done in exactly the right way or he gets very annoyed.
We go through the same arguments when we ask him to come to the table and eat something, and yet, once he is at the table he eats pretty well.
He wants to read the same books at night, watch the same DVDs and listen to the same music.
His tantrums can be predicted, from the pre-tantrum stage via the vehement, face down, heart-felt crying to the post-tantrum that usually involves giggles while the last few tears make their way down his face.
He says the same things whenever we get into the car, see a bus or a tractor, or meet a dog on a walk.
A Moebius Strip. Made with Mathematica. (Wikipedia)
Everything just happens again and again and again. There is nothing new, no variation on a theme, no single, life changing moment. Just one endless loop, going around and around and around.
We have done the first steps, the first words and the first trip to the potty. What else is there to do except just stare at my smartphone while he crashes his big white car into the small red one for the thousandth time?
Except it isn’t like this. It just seems as if it is.
This is not Captain Pickard being doomed to destroy his ship over and over again because small things are changing all the time.
The games change imperceptibly. The arguments about dinner get fiercer. Over time, certain books, DVDs and music get dropped, to be replaced by others. The tantrums get longer (but they are still followed by a smile). The pronunciation of the words comes closer to the norm bit by bit.
Writing this blog has helped me because I am able to look back and see the amazing changes that have taken place over the last year or so, but which get lost in the day-to-day minutiae of being a dad.
But whatever it takes, I need to remember to put down the smartphone and start paying attention to all the small changes because whatever has happened, will never happen again.
I am now over half way through ‘1977’ by David Peace. It is the follow up to 1974 and just as bleak and violent. This one is also set in the north of England to the backdrop of a hot summer and the jubilee. There are murders, rapes and police brutality a plenty.
Tons do Azul – Blue Tones by Mateus Pabst – CC-BY-2.0
While most people reading this have been suffering from a wet and cold winter in the northern hemisphere, we in the south have been enjoying our summer. On Boxing Day our family did the traditional Curitibano thing and left the city to go and enjoy the sunshine at the beach.
And boy, did we get a lot of sunshine.
New Year’s Eve clocked up 40° C, but it felt even hotter. We also had another couple of days that were just as hot, before it all ended in the last three days with torrential downpours and floods.
Just your typical Brazilian summer, then.
But as well as just having a good time we, or at least our 2-and-a-half-year-old son, learnt quite a bit as well.
What’s in a name?
Up until now, Mr T has never used his name. He has been aware of his name for a long time and would usually respond to it if you shouted it loud enough and for long enough, but whenever you asked him to tell you his name he just said ‘Me’. He also uses ‘me’ whenever he wants to refer to himself, for example ‘Daddy, me no nar nar now.’ (‘Daddy, I’m not going to sleep now.’)
But a few days ago, after a lot of encouragement and persuasion, he finally said his name. He hasn’t quite got the pronunciation right yet, but it was quite a milestone for all of us.
As well as learning to say his name he learnt the word ‘beach’ and its Portuguese equivalent ‘praia‘.
He learnt to say ‘bicho‘ which is a Portuguese word that can be used to talk about any animal, but especially small creepy crawly ones. If this creepy crawly animal doesn’t actually crawl but instead flies, Mr. T now calls is a ‘bee’. This is another example of him having to fine tune his understanding of words in the future.
Another animal that he named was ‘monkey’ because we saw some a couple of times in the garden next door to the house we rented. He is more likely to, make the noise of a monkey, but he did say the word a couple of times.
Mr. T has been going to swimming classes for the last 18 months or so. When he started he was the youngest in the class, but later this month he is due to graduate to the next level when he will be entering the pool without his mamãe. This means that he is very comfortable in the water, but has always had to hold on to someone as he can’t, by any stretch of the imagination, actually swim yet.
Small, but beautiful when it’s 40°!
For Christmas we got him a buoyancy vest that he can wear in the water to make sure his head doesn’t go under for more than a few seconds. This was the best present we got him as it meant he had total freedom in the pool at the back of the house we rented. Obviously, there was somebody with him at all times (one of the things he learnt in his class was to sit on the side of the pool and call for somebody to help him enter the water) but he was able to move around on his own by kicking his legs. He spent hours in that pool.
And last, but certainly not least, we have started potty training. We have had quite a bit of success so far, although there have also been more than a couple of accidents. And this process has meant a few other items of vocabulary have also been incorporated into his vocabulary.
I finally found the time to finish reading ‘Magus’ by John Fowles. It really wasn’t what I was expecting at all, but I am glad that I read it. The story is about an English man in the 1950’s who finds himself teaching on a Greek island because he can’t figure what else he wants to do. The book is about the nature of reality and what it means to have freedom. At least I think that is what it was about as the plot has so many twists and sleights of hand that it was at times a bit difficult to follow.
Ho! Ho! Ho! (rishibando)
What does Christmas mean to you?
To me, it isn’t such a big deal. I am not some Scrooge-like figure who bah-humbugs his way through the holiday season, wishing everyone would just go back to work and stop enjoying themselves, but it has lost some of its lustre.
I think the reasons for this are partly because I now live in Brazil and celebrating Christmas in the 40°C heat just doesn’t remind me of all the wet and cold Christmases past. It is also due to the fact that I am now self-employed, so I don’t have the shared anticipation of holidays and parties with colleagues.
But what does Christmas mean to my two-year-old son?
The answer to this question is far from clear, although if I had to make a guess it might be something along the lines of ‘ho ho ho’ and long afternoon naps.
A couple of months ago Father Christmas started to make his first appearances in the shopping centres in Curitiba, and so as dutiful parents we took Mr. T along to meet one. The reaction was pretty much as I expected in that he was fascinated from a distance, but as we got up close to the strange man in a red suit with a big white beard, he just clung on to me for dear life. He was almost scared to death just being within 10 metres of Santa, nevermind actually going and sitting on his lap.
“Daddy, ho ho ho, truck, da?” (Wikipedia)
Over the last two months, though, he has seen thousands of images of Santa around the city, in school and now that we have put our decorations up, at home as well. His name for Santa is ‘Ho ho ho’ and he takes great joy in pointing at him and saying ‘Daddy, ho ho ho, da?’ (‘Da‘ means ‘yes’). Near where we live there is an old train carriage with an advert of Santa holding a big bottle of Coke and every time we go past it I hear ‘Daddy, pee wee choo choo, ho ho ho, da?’ I love it!
The extra afternoon sleep is due to the fact that the day care school that he used to go to has closed for the holidays and so he gets to sleep after lunch instead of going off to sing songs and play in the Wendy house. Just like his mother, if left to his own devices he would sleep for hours on end.
I don’t think he has any idea of what is going to happen in a few days when he gets loads of presents for no apparent reason whatsoever. Being the only grandson on both sides of the family he often gets presents at random times of the year, but not a whole lot of them together and at the same time. I am pretty sure he’ll remember it for next year though, when the fun really will begin.
My favourite Christmas song: ‘White Wine in the Sun’ by Tim Minchin.
Happy Holidays to everyone who reads this, and to everyone who can’t be bothered as well.
What does Christmas mean to you? What does it mean to your family? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.