Monday, July 21, 2008

"Oh, will nothing wake him?"

It began as a quiet walk, then became a surreal bumper car ride. Yet, in the end, Pa failed.

A patch of rain had just let up, and the evening promised to be pretty, so we had wheeled Sonny out in his stroller for a spin round the park. Only he was so sleepy, his eyes clanged shut before we were in the elevator.

Bother, thought Pa. Let's have him awake so we can point out the sights. He had control of the stroller so he casually jerked it left and right a time or too. Sonny stirred briefly, but then relapsed into slumber.

Suddenly, this was turning into a challenge that Pa couldn't resist. It was inevitable, really: Sonny-in-stroller was now Pa's real-world video game, his dodgem car fantasy. The little jerks on the handlebars became more pronounced. Moving downhill, he deliberately sped up - not enough to tip Sonny out, of course, but enough to be jarring. But darn, the young fella slept on.

The stroller speed was way up now. There were a couple of collisions with Mum's foot, so that the stroller was even airborne for the briefest of moments. Yet the best Pa could do was activate Sonny's startle reflex. The young 'un started, yawned a time or two, then returned to dreamland.

We rounded the park, popped by the video store and even looked in at the supermarket. Sonny woke up only as we reached our front door: Our little stroll had lasted some 20 minutes, during which time Pa had thrown his energy and inventiveness into ever more disruptive stroller manoeuvres. Was he being ridiculously wilful? Quite possibly. Mum had become a little apprehensive about the proceedings.

Still, Pa would claim, it wasn't all in fun. It had developed into a little preview of battles to come, when child and parent will tussle over everything from pocket money to getting home late to the use of the family car. All part of the way of things: Parent wants Child to do something, Child obstinately refuses. Inter-generational combat.

Battle has been joined, then, and Sonny has only won the first round.