Whew! Hubby and I just survived a week with a 2-year-old in the house.
Our most recent contact with a child that age has been confined to “isn’t she cute” or “wow, he’s sure grown a lot.” Granddaughter No. 7 was the last toddler we have had prolonged contact with, and she graduates from high school this coming year — plus she went home at night. But, in our innocence, we spent two or three days “baby-proofing” the house: moved all the knick-knacks up high, took up the throw rugs, and hid the remotes. We were well prepared for a toddler in the house, we thought.
How soon we forget. When he hit the ground running, we just smiled at each other. Of course we forgot about the attraction of cupboard doors, books on bookshelves, and anything that can be put into the mouth. But, by the second day we both remembered to close the bathroom door when we left and replace the rubber bands locking the door knobs of the under sink cupboard. It’s like riding a bike; some habits are simply buried under all the fluff you’ve acquired after all these years. They emerge smiling when you need them again.
He wasn’t alone. Granddaughter No. 3 is his mom and she visited, too, letting us in on the parenting habits of GenX. Maybe, because I am the oldest of seven, or maybe because I was a mother at a pretty young age, my parenting style was beneficent neglect, or as some have referred to it: “Don’t cry unless there is blood.” Today’s moms (and probably dads, too) are a lot more nervous. No. 3 didn’t hover, thank heaven, but she did watch carefully. Little chance for the Boy to eat a bug, but she did let him splash in puddles and get his clothes dirty on the beach, even go barefoot in the sand so I don’t fear he’ll grow up never having been a kid.
My kids, even at 2, were pretty adventuresome, and I let them be. After No. 1 son, the others had him to lead them, for better or worse. It was a learning curve for me so when they splashed in the mud, I joined them, and if someone got a boo-boo, I kissed it and went on with the program.
Today I’d be a negligent parent, but then, I was simply following my best instincts. I hadn’t even read Dr. Spock, and most of the “be a better parent” books were still to be written by the Baby Boomers who don’t have any kids, so I was on my own, with only the grandmas and my friends to give me any guidance. And my friends were as clueless as I. But we survived, and more to the point so did our kids, and all in one piece, for the most part. Maybe a stitch here or there, and a scar with a really good story, but all in all, healthy and able to carry on in society without too much of a stigma.
The Boy is a pretty good kid, as 2-year-olds go. He likes cars and stuffed animals, and books. True to his DNA, if he sees you sitting with nothing in your hands, he brings a book and wants to be read to. We read a lot of “The Big Blue Truck,” “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” “Pat the Bunny” and nursery rhymes. He likes TV if there is music and color and movement, but otherwise ignores it in favor of anything with wheels. And he eats anything which is very gratifying as I have complained before about kids who are picky eaters.
I’m from the “clean your plate” generation (children are starving in China) so I adjusted it for my kids to “taste everything on your plate” and there isn’t much they won’t eat. No. 3 will also eat anything so it follows that her kid will have a good appetite. He loves watermelon and gobbles bread with or without a topping. He didn’t reject anything we put in front of him, although he did take a couple of tentative bites of a pickled egg before he devoured it.
As you can see, Hubby and I were completely enthralled with our great-grandson. Partly because he’s a boy (after seven granddaughters) but also because it’s been awhile since we’ve had the pleasure of watching a small child in action. We hated to see them leave. It is mind-boggling, all the paraphernalia it takes to move a kid these days. Even with four kids, I grabbed a diaper bag and a bottle and was ready to go.
Nowadays it takes a car seat, a back pack, a toy bag, a lunch bag (insulated) and mom’s purse to just get to the car.
And as we put the rugs back and found the remotes, we each had a “Boy Story” for the other to laugh at. Altogether a very good week. And thank heaven, he went home!
Virginia Walters lives in Kenai. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.