When babies mock dads with their best ‘Stel-laaaa!’

Hands out, palms facing the heavens, I screamed, “Let me out of this playground!”

Hands out, tiny palms raised, my inspired, near-two-year-old Little Mate did the same thing.

Funny what children learn.

How they first show it startles. 

Ok, yes, for the parents on to their second, third child, or those with mooching man- and woman-children, this is nothing new. 

They’ve collected expired credit cards, mooned posties, howled a bad word in food courts, and learnt how to call grandma when dads bellow very bad words at those sitting in overtaking lanes.

But it’s the feeling.

Ears ring from lips creasing, breaking across flushing cheeks, expanding and parting to flash white teeth with widened eyes.

It’s a good thing, especially in a world of growth percentiles, towering charts and expectations that can rattle any parent’s confidence. 

Little Mate’s not the biggest talker, but as he edges closer to the “big two”, his health book has it he should be saying about 50 words and a few sentences.

He has the essentials, which include: “Gog” for dog, “At” for cat, na-na, nan-na, ap-ple and ball!!!!!

And all of that is fine.

Because children then show us they are smarter we can ever think.

In the lifetime of recent weeks, Little Mate showed approval with thumb up.

He has cried “no” when led to bed.

He has begun to paint.

He can whack an underarm, ping-pong ball overhead, with but a glossy roll of cling wrap.

And, in that fateful restaurant playground, when his father, behind glass screens that sever parents from reality, shook arms and cried for a tap out, my son drew on his inner Marlon Brando and mocked his old man. 

Chris O’Leary