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Dave the Dad 20 - The Indecipherable Rules

Dave the Dad 20 - The Indecipherable Rules
In his subtle and caring way Tom is gradually introducing us to The Indecipherable Rules.

This is the stringent, dogmatic and totally befuddling code by which Tom has now chosen to live his life. These are fairly simple rules to follow as long as you are a) Tom or b) See A. For anyone who has the misfortune not to be Tom, which encompasses the majority of the world and the vast majority of our house, they make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Take lunchtime. A couple of months ago Tom loved lunchtimes. He loved eating, loved the whole rigmarole of watching Mum and Dad's food go cold as he chucked his lovely warm meal onto the floor or smeared custard into his hair or rammed a fork dangerously close to his eyes. He would emerge from some tea times looking like a beaten, cheese sauce-tattooed, yet victorious Maori warrior. Always victorious.

Anyway the Rules have changed things since. For a while now every morsel of food has had to be carefully vetted by Tom. This entails taking the fork or spoon himself and studying the contents before placing it inside his mouth. Or, alternatively, grabbing the fork or spoon and waving it around at Mach 2 before slamming it into the general direction of his face. Such growing independence we had taken for granted but The Rules have altered the dynamic for now sometimes Dad has to help and Mum stays at a distance, sometimes Mum has to help and Dad stays at a distance, sometimes no-one must help, sometimes a mixture is needed, sometimes a partial mixture is needed and/or sometimes none of the above applies.

Some people might sigh at this and say 'Well, you just improvise' but they don't understand the rigidity of The Rules. When any of these are broken, interfered with, altered, bent or even slightly threatened then mayhem breaks out. One example will suffice: Linguine is a surefire winner every time as long as it's fed by dad, with custard, on his Bob the Builder fork, whilst he plays with his wooden farmyard animals. On Thursdays. Between 5.00 and 5.07. Change anything and this method collapses into a black hole of chaos with eyes clamped shut, waving arms, dessert akimbo and dad's head looking like a Rastafarian tomato.

However (and this is the cunning part) sometimes no change is needed to provoke exactly the same reaction. See? Indecipherable.

TIR affects everyday things also. Try holding Tom's hand as he's running into a wall and he is all too likely to snatch away the hand and sprint faster, usually yelling 'NONONONONONONONO' and shaking his head so violently that he looks like a deleted scene from The Matrix.
As an aside his speech is coming along nicely. Apart from the animal noises he particularly likes 'NONONONONONONONO' and tries to get some use from this phrase at least sixteen times a day. He clearly knows what it means as all 'NONONONONONONO's end with the rejection of some bizarre idea of ours such as eating a vegetable, coming in from the rain or not wrestling the scissors from Mummy's hand. Apart from these regulars he likes 'Mum' so much that, after much experimentation, he has now fine-tuned the word to such a tone that it can shatter plaster.

'Dad', on the other hand, has fallen by the wayside. Disappointed by this turn of events I find that I have regressed and often point to myself reminding him 'Daddy, daddy'. Such a palpable attempt at self-identification makes me feel like a character in Sartre, a dilemma Tom finds droll but which fails to offer enough diversion to halt him in his headlong hurdle through the living room door to the top of the kitchen stairs. I often find myself here attempting to halt his progress when The Rules kick in, with the effect that he studiously avoids the stairs and propels himself backwards down through the hallway and into the front door. At times like this I often imagine him careering straight through, leaving a cartoon hole of Tom-shaped proportions, arms awry, leg spinning. Such thoughts are consoled by the fact that as long as he doesn't get more than five miles before we notice we should be able to trace him when he shouts for his mum.

We both admit though that his walking and running is a joy to see. His confidence is such that he now runs everywhere (a little like Herman Munster it's true) and he has even incorporated the sideways or backwards glance into the movement. This does mean a great deal of running into things, bouncing off people, stomping on Burmese cats or piling up in a huddle of toys, but luckily Tom is a fairly new model and therefore has all of the most up-to-date features. His TLOAD (Total Lack Of Awareness Device) allows him to crash into/through up to 83 objects in any given day and still pick himself up as though nothing had happened. Each time this happens he does seem surprised but the TLOAD wipes the memory so efficiently that he's up again in no time, reading a book while he navigates the stairs, or juggling knives whilst climbing onto the window-sill. Another great invention is his PPB (Protective Pot Belly) which not only assures that his feet are shielded from any object accidentally pulled from the table accidentally by grasping little accidental hands, but which also acts as an organic airbag on everyday journeys around the house.

Meanwhile I'm left following him around on these expeditions, sneakily teaching him words that end with 'ad' in a vain attempt to convince people that he knows who I am. 'Look Tom a mad cad who's a tad sad'. Any of these would suffice but oh no, not allowed to say those. It's in The Rules.


Dave Fouracre aka "Dave the Dad" is a regular feature writer & blogger for TheBabyWebsite and is Dad to two sons and a daughter!
February 11 2007
©David Fouracre

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