The Toddler Terminator 17 Oct 2012
In her own way – and in her own nappy – she altered the record of my past.
It was a wet, blustery day. We were remarkably bored, so I decided to dust off the old turn-table.
Having never seen anything like it before, she was naturally fascinated.
For me, I welcomed the way the vinyl dragged me back to my childhood. The huge gate-fold covers, the detailed liner notes, those crinkly protective sleeves – equally obsolete and charming.
I picked her up and showed her how it worked. For a few moments we watched the needle rock up and down on top of a vinyl disc, warped by time and poor storage.
“Daddy?” she asked, then reached for something on a nearby shelf. And then it began, a game that would change my past forever.
She had spied these little Ikea finger-puppets, and all she wanted to do was throw them on the record and watch them spin around.
The game was kind of funny at first, but these colourful pockets of felt brought an unintended, cruel consequence.
Just as the first song reached an exciting early 1980s crescendo, the needle jumped back a bit. A minute later it happened again.
The finger-puppets, positioned near the centre of the record, were moving outwards, edging towards the needle, slowly creeping inwards. At every intersection of these two forces, the puppets won.
I could never hear beyond the first minute or so of Track One, and that little toddler cried at my every attempt to remove the puppets.
All she wanted to do was heap on more and more puppets. They are cheap things, designed in Sweden but manufactured in China. We have more of them than there are fingers in the house.
I watched as these objects of my daughter's childhood interfered with the manifestation of mine.
After that day, I kind of lost both the opportunity and desire to play the records. When she was asleep I was invariably too tired. And when she was awake there were always finger-puppets close at hand.
Now the record player continues gathering dust. As for my Toddler Terminator, she never stops. I watch her ceaseless energy, exhausting me at every move, just as it should be.
This struggle between her present and my past is inevitable, for she lives only in the moment. Before her ego emerged in the world, there was no 'Daddy'. For her, the record only goes back as far as her puppets permit.
There seems to be a larger message of the passage of time here. I must concede the very real possibility that one day, the future will belong not to us who walk so easily erect on two legs, but to those of our creation, to the crawling toddlers.
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