Tuesday, 20 November 2012

On my youngest nieces

Anna, my second youngest niece, is a charming cutie who, I am told by a qualified medical authority (e.g. the medical doctor known as Alice, e.g. her mother and my sister. ;-) ) is well ahead of her 18 or so months in her extensive verbosity. She unleashed her extensive (if no more than two syllables and sometimes slightly inaccurate) vocabulary on me twice in the last two months. The first time was the long (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend. At the time, she could barely string two words together, but she has come a long way since I last saw her, in August. She substituted repetition for complex sentences and generally made herself understood.

Under the relatively flimsy excuse of delivering some boxes Alice had been storing with me, I went up to Toronto on the train on the Friday before Thanksgiving with said boxes to stay with Alice, Mark and Anna, over the long weekend. Probably owing to the long weekend, the cheap economy tickets on Via Rail were sold out. However, the cheap business class tickets weren't. Consequently, as they were only about twenty dollars more than the only available economy class tickets, I booked myself in first class going both ways. In relative terms, it was a bargain as food and booze was included. It also allowed me into the "fortress" of the Panorama Lounge in Montreal's Central Station. In my many years of taking trains of there, I had always seen it, but never been in. It didn't live up to the name, which I had always suspected as it is thirty feet underground! However, it was very comfortable and let me feel smug at how "posh" I was. They also provided "complimentary" magazines which included a biking magazine, one of which I snaffled to read on the train. (Hmm, I should have grabbed a "People" magazine for Alice.)

Anyway, Alice's Plan "A" for meeting me had been to drive to Union Station from Mississauga. However, as the train was a bit late, and as this would have meant she would had to face long weekend, Toronto rush-hour traffic, so instead we went to my Plan "A" and I took a GO Train to Mississauga. The GO Train's iconic double-decker cars have fascinated me for years, but until Thanksgiving, I never had the chance to go on one. Hence, I rather appreciated the opportunity to take the Go Train.
Anna, as mentioned above, is quite the talker. She is also very inquisitive and very friendly. A cheery little devil. About her only downside is that she likes to push buttons a little too much. This resulted in her pushing the emergency call button in an elevator in the Eaton's Centre without Alice or myself noticing. It was only when a voicee from a speaker inquired if we had an emergency that we realised what she had done. We apologized to the unseen security person. I was tempted to say "No, we don't have an emergency, but we do have a button-happy toddler!"  ;-)

(In the interest of due disclosure, I must admit that I once pushed the emergency stop button on an escalator somewhere in Toronto when I was 4 or so.)

The words in Anna's vocabulary are a little garbled. More than two syllables, and a word is nearly guaranteed to come out mixed up. However, Anna has made progress in the last month. At Thanksgiving, she pronounced "blanket" as "ballat", whereas by last weekend it was "blanke".

Among the things I did at Thanksgiving was to make some calzone to stick in Alice and Mark's freezer so they might have something quick to make once Maria arrived. I also located a very nice park in a nearby ravine which made for good walks. I had been a little surprised at how little Alice knew of how the geography of Greater Toronto worked until I remembered that she had been a little under two when she left for North Hatley, that is only a few months older than Anna!
Anyway, I went up last weekend to see them do what little I could to help.  At one point, Maria started crying in her crib just as Alice was putting Anna to bed. On the theory that quieting Maria would assist Anna going to sleep, I picked up Maria and tried to soothe her with little success. When Alice emerged from Anna's room, I explained what I was doing, but that I didn't really know what Maria wanted but that I was guessing Alice might have a better idea than me. Alice replied: "I don't think she knows what she wants!" So much for the theory of maternal intuition! ;-)
 Maria is absolutely a tiny, helpless marvel. I find it mind-boggling that only 18 months ago, Anna was the same. Not to mention the fact that myself and the rest of humanity have gone through that stage. I mean, Maria cannot even smile yet!
She is quite cute, but somehow she doesn't capture my imagination as much as Anna does. At least right now.  In seventeen months, a lot can change!
 Nonetheless, Maria is still very cute and cuddlesome.
Anyway, on Friday, Mummy and I took Anna for a toddle in the ravine park where Mummy and I had chickadees feed from our hands.
We tried to get Anna to hold the seeds in hand for the birds, but she couldn't get the concept of holding them in her flat palm. She was interested in much of the nature around her including the fallen leaves, sticks and other plant material.
When we went back the next day, we were lucky enough to see fairly large white-tailed stag walking through the woods. And this was only a few hundred meters from the 403!

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