When I Wasn’t Looking

Kids change as they grow – not so much basic personality types, I’m finding, but some behaviours that you never thought would end do. Of course.  But sometimes the change is so gradual that, just like you can’t see the grass growing but suddenly it’s got to be mowed or you can’t see the hour hand slipping around the clock but suddenly the day is done, suddenly the child infront of you has lost whatever it was that drove you nuts. But you can’t remember when.

Here, where I say you, I mean me. But I assume it happens to everyone.

It takes things like tonight to really show it. Tonight (actually, most of last weekend too, but now I’m writing about tonight) was pretty incredible.  We had an awesome cool adventurous evening, but certain things highlighted the changes in Cameron over the last year.

Last year Cameron and I went to a members-only evening at the aquarium.  It was fantastic – we ate dinner near the belugas, we looked at starfish and found other creatures with tube feet (sand dollars, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers if you’re curious), watched the bats, and generally explored. He played in the play area (blanking on its name) a little, playing vet with Bunny and the seal stuffies they have there, bickering over vet instruments with the other kids. Bobs and Lolo, a musical duo with a kiddie following to rival any rock star put on a show in the lobby … and sent Cameron running in tears. Too loud. Which was okay by me, it meant that since all the kids flocked to listen, we had the rest of the aquarium pretty much to ourselves. Oh, and Cameron avoided the guy in the beluga costume like the plague.

This year, so much had changed. Not just for Cameron but for me, too. This year we went with Leif and Kate, and Leif’s brother, sister in law, and neice. Last year I was wondering if the cute red-headed kid who ran past me with her mom was Kate.

Cameron wanted to watch the dolphin show, and while he was wild and bouncy from excitement, he was also listening. “Mommy, how come the dolphins got caught in fishnets? But they can see with their ears, couldn’t they hear where the nets were?” I explained to him that the dolphins in the aquarium are helping researchers to understand that very question, and he understood. “So that maybe they can make better nets, right?”

The guy in the beluga suit? Cameron played a game of high-fives with him, tickled pink. Here I’m assuming a guy was in there, but really I have no clue. As we walked away, Cameron asked, “But how can the man in there see out?”

At the play area, instead of running wild with the kids and fighting over the seals, he sat at the craft table. Ohno, I thought as I saw this. It’s going to be,  “Mama, I really want to make this! Make it for me?” But was I ever wrong. He happily showed me the sticker he was applying, and then ignored me while he finished. YAY! On his orange name tag he’d put a C, and an A, and an E twisted on its side to make an M. There was a pink lobster, a green octopus, and an orange octopus. “The green octopus changed colours to orange, Mama,” he explained. “So that it’s camouflaged.”

Last year, had there been a magician, Cameron would’ve a) not cared, and b) refused to go anywhere near him. This year there was one. While taking a break from another activity, Cameron went over to see him, and was treated to a magic show, just for him and another girl. The magician told them about his two bunnies, two little foam rabbits just the size that could be squished into a kid’s hand. Which is just what he did – he pressed “Mrs Rabbit” into Cameron’s hand, and closed his fist with instructions to hold her tightly. Then “Mr Rabbit” hopped around, disappeared in a flourish, and … was in Cameron’s hand with Mrs Rabbit. Cameron squealed with delight.  Then he had the kids hold hands, with both rabbits concealed between them. But wait … ohno. What happens when you put Mr and Mrs Rabbit together? Oh, NO! BUNNIES! Seriously, there were a dozen ittybitty foam baby rabbits with the bigger ones, and all went spilling everywhere as the kids let go of each other’s hand.

Best of all, Cameron was excited about Bobs and Lolo this year. He was a little uncertain as we got there and he realized how loud they were, but braved the volume to go into the crowd of kids. Right up to the front, where Kate already was. And my little guy, who just last year had retreated in tears, was right in there, dancing and bopping around doing the gestures and actions they suggested as if he’d listened to Bobs and Lolo every day of his life. Which he hasn’t. I don’t even own one of their CDs, I confess. I think I’ll get one!

So, small changes, over time, but big results. Just when did he get okay with big, flashily dressed strangers like the magician? Or people in costumes? When did he decide that doing crafts on his own was fun? And when the heck did he become a kid who could handle a loud music show?

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