First, she put her mouth on each block before throwing them on the ground, one by one. Then she grabbed the crackers, handling three for every one that she actually decided to eat. Then she reached for a cream puff, foolishly set eye level on the coffee table, with her eyes wide open as though she’d just found the solution for the economic crisis or, perhaps, a hunk of pure gold. And her mother never got to sit down.
My cousin Susie’s fifteen-month-old daughter, Amelia, was too busy being a toddler at my mom’s Easter dinner this weekend to sit still. She had things to tip over, stairs to climb and a smorgasboard of appetizers and, later, desserts, to fondle. And I enjoyed every minute of it.
“I hate to tell you this,” I advised Susie, “but you won’t be able to sit down at family gatherings until 2012.”
I couldn’t hear her answer, as she was busy chasing Amelia into the hallway—again.
“I remember finding crumbs in my closet when your boys were that age,” my Aunt Nancy recalled. “After Christmas dinner, I went upstairs to find a trail of cracker crumbs leading to my closet, and I wondered How did these get there?”
My sons, now ten and twelve, smirked.
“You used to climb up one flight of stairs and come down the other,” Aunt Nancy told them. “And your mom never sat down either.”
As I watched Amelia relocate my mother’s antique teddy bears from the living room to just next to the coffee table, where she dumped them in favor of squeezing raspberries, I remembered those days well. Only, when my younger son was Amelia’s age, my older son was not quite three, so I had double the toddler fun, double the crumbs, and double the smooshed raspberries. I spent the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st running in two different directions. And yet, watching just one toddler run circles around us at my mother’s house, tired me out.
This weekend, we visited some friends during their family’s Easter dinner. I grabbed a seat at the table, where their kids had abandoned to go play, and my son sat in a chair behind me. “Is he in a time-out?” my friend Mike asked.
“No, he’s twelve,” I replied. “He sits.”
Mike’s eyes widened as he took in this information.