I thought kids were supposed to grow up when you weren't looking? We've just had a week or two of wholesome family togetherness on holiday (mostly in the Ardeche region of southern France, thanks for asking) where Tom has been constantly with us; spoilt to within an inch of bratdom and in sight continuously. Scrutinised, in fact - his actions dissected and analysed by a panel of judges. Then we come home and Tom returns to his usual routine a changed boy.
Karen, Tom's childminder, has always described him as 'a watcher'. While the other kids at playgroup charge off and throw themselves into activities Tom would hang back, see what they got up to and then quietly select his moment to act. Often this would involve seizing his favourite pedal car or staying close to the grown ups, whiling away his time in blissful solitude. I've always got that about him. I was that kid once.
This week, though, something has changed. Monday found Tom joining in with the dancing and singing at Tumbletots; something he's studiously avoided in the past. He even deigned to join 'the train' - a conga chain that forms to migrate the tots from one activity to the next. In the past Tom has demonstrated some serious 'personal space' issues at the very suggestion that he may allow another child to hold his hips. On Monday, however, off he toddled.
On Wednesday Karen reported that Tom had launched himself into a softplay area - one of those multi-tiered cage things with slides, giant mangles and holes that were designed to humiliate fathers who aren't as flexible or lithe as they once were. This is another first; up 'til now Nik, Karen or I have been dragged into these squishy, claustrophobic hell-zones where four year olds climb the netting and body slam you in the ball pit. I don't think I'll miss that particular pleasure but I do wonder where these things were when I was a kid (Cue extended wistful reminiscences about the golden age of childhood when you played outside, climbed trees, fell in streams etc. etc.).
A confidence has emerged that has caught us by surprise and we love it.
A year ago today we brought Tom home from hospital. Again. That was the beginning of the journey back to sound - his first cochlear implant. He hadn't started walking again and had been out of hospital less than a month but photos of that time show him smiling, playing and blissfully unaffected by the turmoil that we were going through.
How things move on.
This morning Tom sang 'Twinkle, Twinkle' and 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' to me while I pretended to go to sleep in his bed. He has 'Twinkle, Twinkle' down pat while 'Baa, Baa Black Sheep' sounds like a stuck record. He gets jammed on the first line and needs a small vocal nudge to get him off the first line.
This morning it went:
'Baa Baa Black Sheep,
Daddy Shut Your Eyes!,
Have you any wool?
Baa Baa Black Sheep...'
That's my rather long-winded way of saying 'Sorry for the lack of updates - Tom is in astonishing form'