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Davis Journal

Relearning and reliving the adventure of family

Feb 10, 2022 11:05AM ● By Louise R. Shaw

She’s just two years old but she packs a punch. That’s why I’m sure the coming week will be exciting.

When you’re as old as I am, it’s a rare week that you get to spend in its entirety with a two-year-old. But being a grandma has its perks. And this is sure to be one of them.

Luckily, I just happened upon something I wrote 30-some years ago when I was dealing with one two-year-old after another – in fact four of them in a pretty short span.

As with most everything from those busy days, I’d forgotten about it all somehow in the interim. But everything came rushing back as I read, making me glad I’d taken the time to record the adventure, and glad to know that raising a child is something you most often can survive, and glad I don’t have a million other things to do this time around.

From some time in the 1980s:

Entertaining a two-year-old has got to be one of the great challenges in life.

Forget landing a job, presenting a seminar or canvassing door-to-door for charitable contributions, nothing stands up to the never-ending demands made by those infamous youngsters.

From sunup to sundown, 465 days a year (some years seem longer than others), a two-year-old is on the prowl for the ultimate in entertainment.

Mother becomes a major resource in that search, and “What should we do now, Mommy?” becomes an all-too-familiar phrase.

From the time my daughter was 19 months old (some children are two longer than others), she was after me for entertainment, regardless of whether I was talking on the phone, preparing a meal, quieting a baby, or, more likely, all three at once.

“Let’s watch Sesame Street!” was a phrase I used whenever possible. But Sesame Street lasts only 50 minutes (some hours seem shorter…). “Do you want to play with your toys?” was another I’d try unsuccessfully, inflecting my voice to make it sound like the next best thing to a trip to the zoo.

But no distraction was effective against the persistence that so typifies a two-year-old. No project is so important that it shouldn’t be set aside for their needs or wants.

If inadequate attention was given to her needs, my persuasive daughter would grab and destroy whatever I had in hand – be it animal, vegetable or newspaper. Next came the attack on my person – given especially freely on those occasions when I would have the misfortune of looking overly tired. A parent red with anger is worth two asleep on the couch.

In my experience, the only time toddlers aren’t asking for assistance at play is when they’ve discovered a toy that should not be a toy. Like petroleum jelly. Or old college texts. Or both.

Grown-up toys like pianos (my son would spend minutes on end there), chairs (a.k.a. choo-choo-trains), Tupperware cupboards (a must for every household), removable couch cushions (trampolines one day, forts the next) or magazines (already read, not yet read or currently being read) are more entertaining by leaps and bounds than any plastic toy conservative enough to pass national toy safety standards.

Despite the inevitable chaos, I long ago recognized the worth of sacrificing five minutes of clean-up time for five minutes of peace and quiet. Games and crafts, naps (if you’re lucky and your child is rare), age-appropriate chores, storybooks and outings are all temporary solutions to keeping those tireless children happily occupied and challenged.

But respect and praise to the parent who keeps it all up 34 hours a day.