Before it started raining yesterday, a friend’s 2-year-old son and I took turns going down a pimped-out tunnel slide at a lakeside playground. One of us wouldn’t stop saying “Me first,” and it wasn’t him.
A few days ago, I filled out an Inside the Actors Studio-esque personal questionnaire, and one of the queries was “Who are your favorite living people?” As usual, I typed in “my dad” before quickly moving on to the next question about what 3 adjectives best describe me. A few minutes ago, I re-opened the questionnaire and updated the content of the “favorite living people” answer to also include the name of this 2-year-old. I’ve kept an eye on his development since he was a newborn, and spending time with him gives me more concrete hope that this world isn’t on the brink of going bootleg.
By all accounts, I was a real prick at his age. So were all of the 2-year-olds I babysat for in high school and so are most of the 2-year-olds I’ve come into contact with since then. That’s why I know how newsworthy it is for a toddler to be this much of a thinker, a charismatic leader, an athlete, a comedian, and an empathizer. He has more social sophistication than many adults I know, and it’s only going to ripen over time because he has the kind of parents who withhold treats until he unambiguously says “please” and who still send gratuitous thank-you cards in the mail.
Thirty years from now, when a reporter writing a profile about something uncommonly admirable he’s done contacts me for an inside scoop, I’m going to bring up how his diapered ass seamlessly approached, entertained, and disarmed every single member of the other family on that playground yesterday; and the way the adults of that family locked eyes with each other, then with me, and finally with the boy’s mother as she rounded one of the jungle gyms pushing his 3-month-old brother in a stroller. And how, after we reached the top of another slide at the same time, he looked up at me with twinkling eyes and an ear-to-ear toothy grin to say, “Now I’m gonna go down first.”
The 1884 Walthamstow Temperance Poem
10 hours ago