Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The Adventures of Byron: First time at the Royal Show

Last week I rocked up to the Royal Show with my wife and my four year old nephew Byron. I've never been massively into the Show and, now that I'm an old fart, I certainly wasn't expecting too much. I certainly didn't expect that our day at the Show would be so awesome.

Byron's nervous excitement

The day began with the standard Byron phone call to let us know that he was on his way. A bout of the nervous hiccups, coupled with Byron's belief that speaking faster would mean arriving faster, meant the conversation was less intelligible than usual, but my wife eventually established they were ten minutes away and went outside to greet him. Upon arrival, Byron bounded out of the car and, with a barely perfunctory goodbye to his mum, immediately set off briskly in the direction of Wesley Church. My wife, slightly perplexed, dashed after him and asked where he was going. "To the train station, Aunty Ness". He said, with a look that suggested it should have been self-evident. Byron was a little man on a very important mission: going to the Show for the first time.

Thirty minutes later we were all on the train on our way to the Show. Byron had force-fed me my cereal and skulled my cup of tea for me to speed things up, before proceeding to laugh heartedly at my man boobs as he handed me my clothes for the day. As Byron gave me my electric toothbrush, I thought that I could happily live with a mini-butler, besides having to suffer the ignominy of a four year old mistaking my chest for the female version.

Byron got us both to line up at the door with him three stations early, such was his anxiety that we would miss our stop. As the train rolled into the Showgrounds train station, Byron began to tremble with excitement. I began to appreciate what the day really did mean to him.

While we waited in line to buy our tickets, I began to get an inkling that I was in for a special day. There was something refreshing about seeing my little nephew so genuinely excited about the prospect of going to the Show for the first time. I even began to get sucked into his world and started to show tell tale signs of excitement myself. I didn't start hiccupping nervously but there was plenty of high fiving and power saluting going on between me and Byron. It was probably at this point that my wife began asking herself what she was getting herself into: babysitting two boys at the Show for the day.

Keeping my cereal down on the rides

After a short wait we entered the Show. Byron jumped around and did one of his spontaneous celebratory jigs when we pushed through the turnstile, before the scale of the place overtook him.  So many people, so many rides, so many things to look at.

As we walked around, Byron gradually came to his senses, and by the time we reached Kiddieland he had collected himself. An executive decision was made and five minutes later I was sitting next to him on one of those awesome looking spinning rides - the type that makes your stomach lurch and turns your brain into mush. While I was concentrating on not projectile vomiting my cereal onto one of the 5 year olds sitting across from me, I could discern Byron's voice yelling "faster, faster!". Much to Byron's chagrin, the ride eventually came to an end. Chock full of adrenalin he jumped out of his seat and skipped down the steps, while I tried to collect myself and settle the contents of my stomach. I looked up to see him sprinting off to the spinning tug ride, which if anything looked worse. I got up and followed him, still not entirely certain that my cereal wasn't going to make an appearance.

Byron enjoying a ride without worrying
whether or not I was going to vomit on him

Freo Doctor Blog readers will be relieved, as were our fellow riders, that I managed to avoid vomiting. It must have been first ride jitters as, after a pep talk from my wife ("There were children still in nappies on that ride, you sissy"), I was soon in gear. Immediately after each ride finished, Byron would leap off and issue a round of high fives. I can see that power saluting is strong in this one.

Time really does fly when you're having fun. After giving each of the rides and a game a try, we decided to grab a bite to eat before checking out the show bags.

Byron's first show bag

In the lead up to going to the Show, my wife had been telling Byron all about the show bags. He always responded with the kind of polite interest that suggested he didn't see what the fuss was about. So, I'm glad to report that Byron's first ever show bag more than exceeded his expectations.

He had seen the occasional person wandering around with an out-sized Spongebob Squarepants twill bag slung over their shoulder, and very quickly decided that was the bag for him. When Byron, who is very rarely lost for words, was asked by the lady at the showbag stall which colour hat he wanted in his bag (bright pink or bright yellow), he just stood there with his mouth agape, not able to form a response. It was a moment to savour. For the rest of the day, he dragged that show bag around like a badge of honour.

The massive hat from Byron's first show bag

Wrapping up

A couple of hours later we were back at our apartment and Byron was still exuding the glow of an awesome day at the Show. We were putting on a reenactment of the acrobat show we'd seen for his Mum. The rest of the day was interspersed with wrestling (four year old boys really enjoy wrestling), bumper car and haunted house rides, a visit to the dairy hall and to the baby animals, two chairlift rides (where his uncle was a bit of a scaredy cat) and of course, the fireworks.

On the way home after the fireworks

It was a great day. My wife and I were both chuffed when Byron declared to his Mum as we were taking him down to his car that the Show had definitely lived up to his expectations. Pretty cool. It would have been interesting to know what he dreamt about that night. Me, I went to bed having enjoyed the very rare pleasure of spending the day seeing the world through the eyes of a child again.

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