That moment when...

22:26, Jul 07 2013

I was remarkably calm considering. I can't say I had ever thought about it - in the sense that it might happen to me, but I was certainly aware of it happening to other people. It was always a possibility - a potential crisis. And then it happened. And I was calm about it. Because, I guess, I couldn't quite believe it happened. It's still slowly sinking in, perhaps.

I'm talking, of course, about that moment when your toddler son breaks your stereo. Destroys the flow of music in the house.

To be fair to Oscar, he has not broken the arm of the turntable, or dropped a component - he hasn't jammed a stale Marmite sandwich in the tape-deck or wrenched open the draw of the CD player, placed cold, clammy pasta inside and then slammed it back to shut in such a way that it won't ever quite make it back to the fully closed position.

And of course he didn't do it on purpose.

But he has blown one of the speakers of the main home stereo. It's gone. Dead. And it happened very quickly on Sunday morning.

It happened - too - because of Oscar's great love of music. So that, I'm sure, is my fault.


So keen was he to get the music happening, to get his favourite singalong song going, he opened the cabinet door - the baby-lock was broken a few weeks back. And he started fiddling with dials in a desperate attempt to get some noise out into the room.

We had been enjoying Tower of Power's What is Hip? A good song to dance to. But it's got nothing on the welcome song from the Wellington City Library's Baby Rock'n'Rhyme CD! No way.

Tena Koe - hello to one/Tena Korua - hello to two/Tena koutou - hello to all/Hare mai everyone/Welcome everyone.

And so - for now - the stereo is dead in the den.

It didn't - as such - have to happen. But given the way Oscar, 20 months old, is so insistent, so incessant, something like this was probably always going to happen.

And if it's happened to me it may well have happened to you. I've heard stories of small children trying to carry a stereo into a room to share music and dropping it on floor-tiles to smash; plenty of horror stories of the stylus or arm of a turntable being bent or snapped. And though I don't remember ever ruining a stereo that my mum and dad owned I do recall hearing Run DMC and Aerosmith's Walk This Way for the first time and rushing down to the family's turntable of the time to approximate that cool scratching sound with my dad's copy of Sgt Pepper's.

It was hard explaining to Oscar that the stereo is broken. For now it cannot play. He looked at me with the hopeful eyes, expectant, eager, mildly impatient even. That's fine dad, but just put the music on! He held up  one finger. Tena Koe - hello to one...

I looked at him with all the love I could summon - sure that I'd make it through the day and work out a solution at some stage; those speakers were 20 years old, that stereo's had a very good run, it's survived so many beer-fuelled parties and earned numerous hard-fought noise-control notices.

A few verses of that song in my awful, tuneless voice. The best that I could do. Oscar clapped his hands, he grinned, he laughed.

And then I took him down to sit, for just a minute, with his mother. "I can't be around him for just a minute," I said. Or something like that.

A few minutes later, my fears that the stereo would not be returning to a functioning state any time that day were confirmed and then I heard Oscar trotting down the hall, "Dadda! Dadda? Dadda..."

And then that other thing happened - the one where you hear all the stories about it happening to other people and you know that at some stage it'll happen to you too.

"F**k," I said. Because I had to. I said it crisply. Blunt, short. Aimed at no one. Aimed only at the situation. I said it - because I had to. I said it without thinking.

And then he said it too.

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