Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Autumn Comes Early

It's been a great Autumn and Jack has thoroughly enjoyed kicking through the leaves when we're out. But his new fondness for leaves has taken a (for me) rather tragic turn.

When Jack was tiny I built him a mobile out of some green and purple filigree leaves we'd been given by a friend and hung it above his bed.

Although it was just some leaves, bits of wire and cotton, it was a rather beautiful thing. House guests used to say how much they liked it. For two years it caught the gentlest of breezes and gave an air of calm to Jack's room.

I'm not given to making craft objects. Frankly, it was a fiddly thing to make and took far longer than I'd anticipated. It was the gesture of a proud Dad, the physical embodiment of my love for my son.

I say was, because the other day when I went to wake Jack from his afternoon sleep, he handed me a tiny piece of leaf.

"What's that?" Jack asked me.

"It's a bit of leaf." I said.

I looked up and saw that the mobile was dangling at a peculiar angle. Two of the leaves were missing completely.

"Oh dear. Did you pull the leaves off?" I asked.

"Yes" said Jack, without a hint of remorse.

I explained that the mobile was broken and couldn't be fixed. I told Jack that it made me very sad, which it really did. I put on my best serious face.

But instead of looking chastened, Jack gleefully showed me to a drawer in the corner of his room. "Funny one in there. Funny one."

Inside there was a brightly painted wooden mobile featuring cartoon fruit and insects faces. It had been there for over a year and I'd forgotten all about it. Clearly Jack he thought it was much better than my mobile.

I couldn't find the rest of the leaves. My wife found them later, torn up and hidden in Nancy's cot. Had Jack thrown them in there so his not-yet-one year old sister would get the blame? Abso-bloomin-lutely.

The demise of the leaf mobile has taught me several things:

1. Two year olds might be capable of feeling guilt.

2. But they're not very good at being devious.

3. You can't choose your children's tastes.

4. Don't make gestures of your love for your children. Just tell them.

Tomorrow I'll put up the funny one.