Hungrily, he feasts on the world through each and every one of his senses.
With his underdeveloped taste buds, he laps up the excitement, his small hands shaped into claws thrash at the air, while his lungs take in deep gulps of adventure.
As he skulks around his land, confident of his territory, he makes his mark leaving both physical destruction and a lifetime of memories in his wake.
He is brave.
He is wonderful.
He is my son.
And at just three years of age, he is the loudest little boy I know.
Adam’s first love was Thomas the Tank Engine – I think it was because of the “chuff chuff choo choo” noises his dad endlessly rained down on him – but soon after that it was, and remains, dinosaurs.
From spinosaurus to sarcosuchus and epidexipteryx to hatzegopteryx, he knows them all and pronounces their names better than me.
He watches cartoons and documentaries about dinosaurs, reads books and magazines about dinosaurs, plays with dinosaur figures and even dresses in dinosaur-themed clothes. He is a self-confessed dinoholic (as much as a three-year-old can confess to being such a thing).
Now let me start off by saying I am very proud of his passion and his enthusiasm. There is one small problem though, one small thing I struggle with, and that is getting him to say hello, good morning and bye to people, instead of roaring at them.
Some mums will laugh it off with me, giving me that special ‘knowing’ smile. Some people will look at me disgusted with such behaviour from one so little. Others will cry. Yes, my loveable, friendly, passionate boy will make other children wail into their parent’s arms because they are terrified of noisy Adam.
“Boys hey,” I grin, embarrassment distorting my expression. Shush now Adam.
“He just really likes dinosaurs,” I apologise, tears of shame knocking at my eyes. Stop it now Adam.
“He only wants to play!” I fume, as shades of red prick my cheeks. Shut up Adam!
Is it just me, or have children stopped playing?
When I was little, I remember making new best friends all the time in a whole variety of places, from the boredom of the doctors’ surgery to an afternoon spent on the beach on holiday. Children would naturally gather together and, without a second thought, happily play games for however long they had together, before getting dragged home filthy, tired and happy.
Now it seems that this is not the case.
Yes, my boy is loud and loves to roar at other people – especially his peers – but am I mad in thinking that kids used to like this sort of thing? I remember playing fairies and zooming by people, nearly knocking them over, while screaming “get out of the way, fairy coming through!” I don’t think I made anyone cry then…
So imagine my surprise last week, after more than a year of children running for the hills from Adam-o-dactyl, when he actually managed to find someone else to join in with his game.
It was a weekend like any other – stuck in the house with the threat of rain and lack of pennies in my pocket – so we decided to go to our ‘go to’ place – a free heritage railway, just a short car ride from our home. Cheap and fun.
I went to buy drinks for us all and I decided to let the boys (I also have a husband and 17-month-old) run loose outside before the rain halted that idea. By the time I made it back to our seat, balancing squash and cola like a pro, I noticed Adam had made a little friend. Not just any friend either. A friend who was ROARING at him!
I smiled at my husband, put my thumbs up to Adam and kissed my baby boy on the cheek. I’m actually not sure at this point who was more excited. That was until the other kid’s mum showed up.
After only a few minutes of play she yelled at Adam’s friend, told him he was being too noisy, he was apparently disturbing everyone (there was no one else outside) and he was generally being “too much”.
My face sank faster than my husband’s teeth do into a homemade Victoria sponge cake. And as quickly as Adam had made a noisy friend, he had lost him too.
I know there’s a time and a place for noise, and Adam doesn’t always get it right, but for once his small world had been able to plant the seed of dinosaur comradery and watch it blossom, only to have it wilt and wither instantly.
Adam is strong though and continued roaring at his little brother instead, as the other child made his way to the not-so-loud indoors.
It just left me wondering, have we all become so fearful of each other that our children are suffering for it? Have we taught them that people are so terrifying it’s best not to communicate at all? And worse of all, do kids no longer like playing with their imaginations?
So whether it’s pretending to fly like Tinkerbell or roar like a t-rex, I urge parents to let their children embrace their inner play. And if my Adam makes your child cry because he roars too loudly at them, then I truly am sorry. But how about giving them just a gentle nudge instead and remind them, as well as yourself, roaring like a dinosaur can be great fun too.