I forgot what it was like to be a kid until I had kids of my own, and then I was too busy trying to figure out how to keep from going insane. But now that I’m a grandparent, I often have the luxury of just observing the kids, knowing that after a few hours of babysitting I’ll be able to leave them for their parents to deal with for the rest of their lives. Here are a few things I’ve found out recently:
A two-year-old will spit food he doesn’t like into his hand and then fling it onto the floor. This is OK if you happen to have a handy dog-model floor cleaner waiting patiently underneath the table. However, the dog may only serve to encourage the two-year-old, who will then continue feeding her scraps off his plate, or the central platter, until either all the food is gone or Grandpa returns from a bathroom break.
A four-year-old will know how to use the potty and also how to wash his hands afterwards. He loves to wash his hands so much that sometimes he leaves the water running. When Grandpa goes to check on the running water, he finds the boy still in the middle of washing his hands, which are completely covered with soap lather that he proudly displays before wiping them onto Grandpa’s shirt.
A four-year-old will pick up every rock in the rock garden and put them, load by load, into the dump truck part of his tricycle, cart it over to the middle of the driveway, and dump it out. When it is time to clean up he will run into the house, find the box of crackers, and proceed to eat them all (or feed them to the dog) while Grandpa painstakingly picks up all the rocks and puts them back into the rock garden.
A two-year-old will take off all his clothes when it is bath time and run around the house avoiding being caught until Grandpa finally decides to give up and attempts bribery. But rather than being enticed by the possibility of a special rubber ducky in the bathtub, the two-year-old would rather find his grandmother’s stash of perfumes and empty them all out onto the carpet.
A two-year-old who is momentarily left in the front seat of the car pretending to drive while Grandpa runs inside to get his coffee cup, will find the parking meter change box and start dropping coins one by one into the CD slot on the dashboard. Grandpa won’t find out this happened until a few days later when the dash starts smoking and appears on the verge of blowing up, and then the whole car stops working as one of the coins somehow manages to short out the electrical system.
A two-year-old, channeling his inner Banksy, will discover a lost marker behind the couch and proceed to tag the couch along with every wall in the living room in the time it takes his grandmother to switch the laundry.
A four-year-old will push a chair to where the stuff he’s not supposed to reach is kept, climb up on it, and stuff his face with so many cookies that he won’t even want to try to eat a piece of his brother’s birthday cake eight hours later.
A four-year-old will take spices and other things out of the cupboard — like baking soda, vinegar, molasses, tamari, habanero hot sauce, flour, sugar, and chocolate chips — and mix them all together in the manner of a mad scientist. Then he will try to feed a spoonful to his two-year-old brother, who is much too smart to become an experimental subject. Grandpa, on the other hand, thinks this is so cute that he dips a spoon into the bubbling concoction and pretends to taste it, but when it’s right at the edge of his lips the four-year-old grabs the spoon and pushes it inside Grandpa’s mouth. Grandpa spends the next several minutes gagging, rinsing, and spitting at the kitchen sink before taking the whole wicked batch out behind the garage and dumping it. This is apparently where the dog finds it and things don’t go any better for her than they did for Gramps.
A two-year-old on the cusp of being potty-trained will pull down his pants and pee on your carpet rather than making his clothes all wet and yucky.
A four-year-old and a two-year-old both like to push buttons and turn knobs. When their grandparents take them to the beach without bathing suits on a cool day, just to play in the sand, they somehow manage to get completely wet by taking buckets of water and dumping them on each other. After going to the changing rooms where, with great difficulty, Grandpa strips off their wet clothes and puts on their spare sets of dry ones, the boys run over to the showers, push the buttons and turn the knobs, and get themselves completely soaked again.
A two-year-old will ask for a children’s book to read in his car seat while driving home after a long day with his grandparents and proceed to “read” it out loud by describing what is happening in the pictures, until he has put himself to sleep.