Fifteen-month-old grandson Eli just spent the weekend at our house without his parents for the first time ever. We had a really, really fun time. Exhausting, but fun. And though, after raising three children of my own, I should have remembered what it’s like being in charge of a toddler, it was clear that a quarter century had dulled my memory.

Things I once knew but had sort of forgotten about being in charge of a little kid:

  • You have to know where he is and what he’s doing at all times.
  • The next mealtime rolls around just about the time you’re finished cleaning up from the last one.
  • Poopie diapers happen more often than you can imagine.
  • No matter how tired your arms are from carrying around a twenty-two-pound kid who’s perfectly capable of walking, you can’t put him down if he doesn’t want
    to be put down.
  • Just because the grandparents think it’s time to go night-night doesn’t mean it really is time to go night-night.

My most fascinating discovery was what Eli likes to play with. He’s at the age where he’s no longer interested in plastic key rings or socks with bells on the toes or stuffed animals that make crackly noises. Nope. He’s into the good stuff now.

And I’m not talking about any of the wonderful toys we stuck up in the attic a couple of decades ago. Dozens of “Little People,” along with their barn and houseboat and school bus and fire truck. A Rubbermaid tote filled with Duplo blocks. A Fisher-Price drum with cymbals, maracas, and a harmonica stored inside it. A Tonka cement mixer. All of which we hauled down the creaky disappearing stairway to discover that Eli considers them only mildly amusing. Instead of playing with “real” toys, he spent the weekend:

  • Beating on the metal trashcan in my office with the cardboard tube that came out of the used-up box of aluminum foil
  • Hollering into the cardboard tube that came out of the used-up box of aluminum foil
  • Opening and closing cabinet doors
  • Petting the dogs
  • Petting my genuine Davy Crockett coonskin cap
  • Rolling the giant yoga ball all over the house
  • Taking “returnable” Coke bottles that we’re saving for some reason I can’t articulate out of their cardboard carton and putting them back in again
  • Dropping wine corks into an empty cardboard oatmeal canister and then dumping them out
  • Pulling little cans of black olives and chopped green chilies out of the pantry and
    stacking them up
  • Listening to me read the same two books over and over and over again

Did we have fun? You bet we did.

So much fun that I’m counting down the days until Eli comes for his next visit. But in the meantime, I’ll be going night-night when I think it’s time to go night-night.

(January 19, 2014)






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