This week my little Rocket turned two. I own two baby books with the purest white untouched pages you’ve seen, but I’ve documented her journey from our discovery of her as a sesame seed in my belly to now fairly well online and in a few journals scattered around my house when I needed something non-human to vent or emote onto. A decent amount of the day was spent looking at pictures of her as a tiny baldy baby and a bigger baldy baby and a tiny baldy toddler and then now, as a curly-haired decent-sized toddler-kid. Things were sometimes hard at the start. Sometimes they were boring. Sometimes – well, always – they were tiring. And now, at two, I cannot believe the magical little creature she’s become. Sometimes things are hard, like when she throws her food on the floor and then laughs like an tv-movie villain; sometimes things are boring, like when I have to push her in the swing for four million hours or watch the Space episode of Yo Gabba Gabba because she loves the Rocket Ride song so much; sometimes it is physically demanding but no longer am I tired from lack of sleep, except when I stay up too late watching and making fun of Machete Kills. But oh, she is so much fun, I can’t even tell you. She laughs, she jokes, she hides, she calls my name, she sits on my foot and hangs onto my leg as I haul her around the house giggling, she pours me pretend tea from her tea set, she climbs into her cardboard rocket and peeps out the window saying “hellooo!”, she races her Matchbox cars all over the house, she demands I read her books, she counts to ten without saying eight, she high fives everything she can, she swims, she laughs, she flies in with her arms wide for hugs, she dances, she draws, she picks terrible outfits from her clothes drawers, she hides behind poles that are some five-centimetres wide. She’s the best, even when she refuses to eat my elaborate meals and trashes my house and screeches in frustration when I can’t understand what she’s saying.
For her birthday we celebrated with our family on the weekend; snacks, balloons and hugs in the park. While I was at work the night before, Teach made her a cake, dyed the icing green, then drew train tracks on it with an chocolate pen from Coles. We’d bought her a birthday-themed Thomas the Tank Engine train: a Thomas covered in streamers with a cake on the back. Press the cake, it plays the TTTE theme song. Two candles, two sparklers, and a kiss on the cheek. She chased her cousins around and screamed with laughter.
On the day itself, I was at a bit of a loss in the morning, so I took her to Little Creatures in Balwyn. I hadn’t been back since she could walk, and she had great fun bullying some older kids into sitting where she told them, while they in turn stole toys off her and everyone shouted and cried. Still, such is life at a play centre, and she liked playing in the Duplo room and the house room the best, lugging her wonky-eyed baby doll in its baby carrier over to the Lego car and dropping it head-first into a pile of blocks.
After her nap, she woke up to a few lovely present deliveries from friends and family, which was lovely except you try shoehorning a kid away from her beloved new picnic set to go outside. My folks came over and we went on a fruitless expedition to Cocco Latte (closed for an emergency, but open today when I went back) and Acorn Nursery (closing earlier than I expected, so we slammed down our coffees, looked at the fountains and gave up on parks to head back.)
When Teach got home from work, we decided to go out for dinner, which, let’s face it, was more for us than for her. We went to Chadstone so we could hit up Wagamama – there was literally no one but us there at the start, which meant she was free to shout for a while, but she also got rice everywhere and upended her orange juice on the table, so, you know, good work at acting childish on your second birthday, I mean sheesh. Still, the waiters didn’t mind, my meal was delicious and while we forgot to order a free kids meal they threw in her juice on the house.
Appetites sated, we went to Timezone, because there are lots of bright lights and buttons to press. We got a $20 card and played any game she looked remotely interested in; some we didn’t even have to pay for, like the Dance Dance Revolution-type one where she got up on the platform and danced like crazy with the fun-loving people on screen. She boshed some crocodiles, rode a train, hit some lights, drove a car, went on a rat race, and then scored some bubbles and a miniature basketball with all our tickets. She had a blast; we were happy to see her so happy.
The year before, we’d had a little friend party at a park near work, where the Rocket had just learned how to stand up on her own. This year, we headed to the same park after work for an ice cream in the sun. We sat on the grass near another little girl who crawled excitedly over to see us. It turned out she’d just turned one, and to see her next to the Rocket was incredible – a year in a kid is such a long time. As the kids high-fived each other, the mother said, half-laughing, “Does it get easier?” and like I told her then, it really really does.