Tuesday, December 7, 2010


We are in Toronto with our friends Sophie and the Engineer and their baby son Pascal.

The Engineer met us at the airport.  He and Mr Tabubil couldn't stop grinning - they hugged so hard they lifted each other off their feet. The Engineer is what I can only describe as a Cahoot.  As in - that's what he and Mr Tabubil were mostly in while we lived in Toronto.  And they've managed to stay that way ever since we left.
            When we left Toronto two and a half years ago, Sophie and the Engineer were living in a teeny-tiny one bedroom apartment in the city so small that when I borrowed their kitchen to make cookies and the mix-master chewed a tea-towel into the mix, I splattered all four walls with cookie dough. The walls of the living room.
            Now they're living in a comfy house on a generously-sized wooded lot in a small farming town outside of Guelph. The rural life seems to suit them. The engineer has built a planetarium in the backyard, and they grow raspberries in the front.
            We last saw them a year ago - almost exactly a year ago - in the Cook Islands for our wedding.  Pascal was six months old, smiling hugely, and just starting to grow a couple of teeth. Now he's a year older, adores big shiny cars and babbles perpetually in a private patois that we're not clever enough to understand.
            He's a very sunny child. When he was teething in Rarotonga, he expressed his displeasure by screwing up his face and howling - for exactly 28 minutes and 45 seconds, after which he accepted the situation with an equanimity that generally takes another eighty years or so to master, and went back to smiling again.
            "Tabubilgirl" my mother said to me one day, after a whole afternoon's exposure to the baby: "I have something important to tell you. It's not a pleasant thing to have to say, but it has to be said. This is a very special child, a one in a million baby.  Your babies are never going to be like this one."
I couldn't argue with her.  It was patently true.
            At 18 months, he's heading - precociously as always, into an early case of the terrible twos.  His tantrums are masterworks - screwing up his face into something terrible, he flings up his arms and launches himself backward into space.  Flat on his back on the floor, he drums his heels and screams, red-faced and utterly, utterly furious.
            And almost exactly three minutes later, he stops drumming, essays a giggle, and gets back up again, perfectly cheerful.
            Eight minutes later, he slumps heavily against the wall and sighs heartrendingly - the tantrum didn't help any, so precocious as always, he's trying out teen angst.
            Sophie giggles.  Pascal shoots her a look of utter disdain, then shrugs and tries smiling again.
Rinse.  Wash.  Repeat.

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