All of which may make it seem a curious decision to head out on foot to the shopping mall, churning as it is at this time of year with unhappy and unrelenting shoppers. But that's exactly what we did. So I entertained myself and those shoppers of a cheerier disposition by letting Toby loose.
You'd be surprised how many stair cases there are in a single storey mall. You would be less surprised how many easily disrupted cheap items of tat exist at toddler height in a dollar store. Nevertheless we made it round the dollar store accumulating only two items in our stroller and then... disaster. A queue as long as the M25, snaking away from the cash and well up the whazoo. And Toby is having none of it. He has made it quite clear that he has no intention of waiting quietly for an indeterminate time in a queue. Suddenly I am faced with a negotiation of epic proportions, one to rival the middle east peace accord. I have to convince Felicity that we are going to leave our intended purchases and walk out of the shop. At first it does not go well but then, miraculously she takes my promise of return to purchase said items at face value. She believes me, she trusts me and she has faith that a $2 Christmas stocking for mum and a set of bubble blowing thing-a-mes are going to wait patiently for our return. I am not sure if I am more relieved or racked with a sort of prospective guilt at the possibility that I might let this oh so trusting two-year old down.
Happy to report that today Mum got her stocking, a pre-Christmas present, neatly wrapped by me and eagerly announced, well before Mum had even laid hands on it let alone started unwrapping it. Felicity followed this spoiler by telling me "Dad, we have got some socks for you". There are some conventions of present giving that appear to have nuance unintelligible to the younger members of the family. For all we know Toby is at it too but fortunately for him everything he says sounds the same so we would have no idea.
In other news we went to Crystal's Catholic school's departmental Christmas party last night complete with sex-themed gift exchange. We came home with a beautifully carved wooden bottle opener in the shape of a penis. It would be ideal for demonstrating the proper application of a condom in my wife's sex ed class. Sadly Catholic school policy prohibits this so it will sit patiently in a drawer somewhere serving no real purpose other than occasional mild titillation. Oh the irony.
And finally, some pics from driveway shovelling duty the other day: