Yesterday evening, my son was playing very quietly in his room for a very long time. I was tempted to investigate — was he setting fire to his crib? had he climbed out a window? — but I stopped myself. I've learned that these moments are precious, and if the worst he does is dismantle his toddler bed screw by screw, well ...
my husband someone can always reassemble it. Here are some lessons I've picked up along the way. What are yours?
10. There is a cartoon penguin named Pingu. Pingu, apparently, is an Arctic Jerry Seinfeld. He doesn't seem to do much besides careen around his igloo and speak in a high-pitched penguin language, sometimes while wearing hats and ice skates. Occasionally he crashes into things. And this is hilarious.
9. Anything is edible when dunked in ketchup.
8. The day you need to take your child directly from school to the doctor/family function/friend's birthday party is the day he will ruin both sets of school clothes and run into your arms wearing a girls' pair of bedazzled, flared toddler jeans and a bright orange sleeveless T-shirt with an embossed photo of Fat Albert, provided by the school.
7. Your child, who prefers to sit on top of the TV claiming he "can't see," will be able to spot an airplane absolutely anywhere in the sky, often while in a moving vehicle in the dark of night during a snowstorm.
6. Who needs elaborate outdoor toys when there are ants?
5. No matter how carefully you unbuckle him from his car seat at the end of the school day, the straps will somehow French braid themselves under cover of the night — leaving you, hapless parent, to unbraid them while wrestling with a squirming child, a lunch box, and a backpack the next morning.
4. Potty-training means that he goes to the bathroom in his diaper, then casually strolls to the actual bathroom with a few books, sits down for a minute, and gleefully flushes. This is progress.
3. He already knows how to drive. This means climbing into the front seat of the car, donning Daddy's sunglasses, turning the windshield wipers on at a furious pace, fidgeting with the rearview mirror, unlocking apparatus you didn't even know your car had, and somehow managing to crank up the only country music-slash-easy listening station within a 100-mile radius of Boston.
2. Speaking of your car: It is a trash compactor on wheels, a fetid missile of crumbs, although you clean it weekly. It contains plastic dinosaurs that multiply on their own, stale Cheerios wedged deep into the recesses of his car seat, hand-me-down flap books that have been foisted on you by some well-meaning friend, recyclable grocery bags that you keep forgetting to haul into the grocery store, last summer's sandals, enough sand and rocks for your own personal archaelogical dig, a sinister toy that seems to play music whenever you take a sharp left turn, and sour milk.
1. When the bedroom door is closed and everything gets really quiet, your child is probably rearranging his furniture, drawing on the walls, fashioning a fortress from clean clothes, or dismantling his painstakingly assembled train table piece by piece. This is troublesome, but is it worth ruining an hour's worth of quiet? You can return to Toys R Us, but you might never regain this level of peace. Do not open the door. Don't even peek. Just walk away.
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