Old folk at lunch

Tuesday, February 28, 1989

Recollections of the young Joseph



Kids all do and say cute things and the young Joey was no exception. I think we were still at Queen Bess St when Joey managed to indicate (he had only just started talking) that he wanted to go out somewhere. He said he wanted to go to "Herhouse". We were a bit puzzled by this until we realized that Joey had asked a couple of days previously where Nanna had gone and Jenny had said, "She has gone home to her house". Joey not unreasonably took it that the place where Nanna lived was called "Herhouse".

Joey showed a sense of humour from an early age. Once when we were still at Queen Bess st., I had just arrived home from one of my trips to Sydney -- when Joey was around one year old. Nanna was minding him and sitting on the living-room floor with him. For some reason she hit the floor with a rolled-up newspaper and Joey thought that that was hilarious. So she repeated the action several times and it continued to be funny. I can still remember his little baby chuckle. Mind you, when she did the same thing next day he didn't seem to find it funny at all. I was very pleased to have been around on the one day when it was funny, however.

The young Joey always loved going out. When he was only about one and we were living at Gordonvale he would start whingeing during the morning but would shut up like a book the minute we picked him up and stepped out the door to go out. He expected a substantial car trip every morning!

Once when he must have been not much older than one, we were walking through a shop in Cairns and saw a keyring with a small plastic replica of a McDonald's hamburger on it. Joe saw this, pointed to it and said "gamish". That was of course his version of "sandwich". He did not by then have the word "burger" in his vocabulary so he used the nearest word he had -- thereby showing that he was already categorizing his world well (i.e. he recognized that a hamburger was a type of sandwich) and that he recognized the replica for what it was.

He also took an interest in geometrical shapes at an early age and would often refer to anything circular (such as a coin) as a "Dirkle". And we also heard a lot about "triangulguls".

Many of the fond memories I have of Joey the toddler originate from the time that we were at 9 Faversham St., Buranda. One of his earliest foibles was to be greatly concerned whether or not people had replaced the lid on something. Before he was two he had even learnt the word to express his concerns. If someone had (for instance) taken the cap off the tomato sauce (ketchup) bottle and not replaced it, Joey would point to the offending bottle and say loudly "LIDDON". He was quite a Tartar about it and policed all lids in this way with some zeal. This was so much so that when someone left the lid off a bottle during a party at George Parkinson's place and a fly got into it, we all said (jocularly) that it was Joey's fault for not supervising the matter properly.

Joey's pointing was not confined to lids. When we lived at Faversham St., I had (without really thinking about it) a certain ritual preparatory to going out. I would first put on my shirt, then put on my hat and then pick up my keys from the top of the bookcase in the corridor. Joey loved rituals of any sort and he detected that one even before he could walk. As soon as I started to put on my shirt, he would point his little chubby baby finger at my hat. As soon as I put my hat on he would point to my keys. He would then look pleased as I completed the ritual.

A little later Joey also detected a routine that Jenny had. Apparently when she tucked him up in bed at night she would often say: "Now you'll be nice and warm". So, after a while, when she was tucking him into his cot he would get in first and say: "Nice 'n warm" with a very satisfied glint in his eye.

I recollect my mother telling me that I did something similar when I was a toddler. When I would wake up in my cot in the middle of the night I would immediately call out "Whatsamatter, whatsamatter" as "What's the matter?" was what my mother would always say when she attended to me crying.

Something the young Joey particularly liked was doors and gates. In particular he liked to close them and would go around doing so. When we came home he always wanted to be the one to "close the glate" and would scream if someone else did it before he could. Once at Faversham St when he was still under two he worked out how to OPEN the "glate" however. We used to bolt it but not padlock it to keep him in so he had to undo what was for him a fairly big and heavy padbolt to get out. So he opened it while Jenny and I were upstairs and went for a wander down the street clad principally in his nappy. This was of course inherently very dangerous so we were most alarmed when we realized that he was missing and that the gate was open. I had however taken the precaution some weeks earlier of seeing where he would go if the gate was open and had observed that he headed downhill towards Taylor street. I therefore sent Jenny off in that direction while I checked uphill. She found him in Taylor street in someone else's yard trying to close THEIR "glate"!

On 17th. February 1989, while we were living at Faversham St., I took a record of his complete vocabulary at that time. It was as follows:

"Bye bye"
"Dough!" (meaning No!)
"All gone!" (most frequent expression)
"Gog" (dog)
"cat"
"Bum!" (facetious)
"One" (only when descending steps)
"Tiddly Om!" (said for fun)
"A" (in conjunction with alphabet board)
"Violin" (roughly - when looking at alphabet board).

When we were at Faversham St, when Joey was about 18 months, he was accustomed to calling his teated milk bottle his "moongi" (pronounced as in "boong" and presumably a corruption of "milk"). He would usually hold it high in the air while drinking out of it so that he could watch everything else that was going on at the same time. So once, when I was emptying a 2 litre plastic milk bottle by drinking out of it what little remained in it, I saw him watching me and said, "John's moongi!". He saw the joke and laughed.