Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Upside of Busy

Everybody's busy. Busy with work. Busy with family. Busy with committees, a.k.a. the bane of human existance. But you know who's really busy? Toddlers.

If you ever watch them, it's work, work, work. I can just imagine their to-do list: Move stuffed animals from the attic to the middle of the living room. Check. Arrange them in a straight line. Check. Feed them Saltine crackers. Check. Get out a broom and furiously sweep the crumbs until they cover every flat surface in the house. Check. Check.

Honestly, if I owned a business I would hire my three year old because he would get the job done. Assuming the job was to wreak havoc on the office, that is.

I think the secret to toddlers' success is aimlessness. It's amazing what you can accomplish when your goal isn't to accomplish anything at all. Whereas grownups get bogged down by to-do lists, toddlers just do stuff. If they go to the attic for a Captain America costume and find the Easter decorations instead, they'll wear a basket as a hat and call it a job well done.

In addition to getting out everything in the attic known to man, J.J. now has an added job: he's a father.

His cousin Francie had a babydoll at my mom and dad's house, which J.J. took one day and secretly put to bed in the crib upstairs. When Francie was leaving, we all looked for the doll and asked J.J. if he put her somewhere.

And he was like, "I have no idea what you're talking about."

But then he went upstairs to put another babydoll to bed and we found Francie's doll.

He was like, "Oh, you were looking for the babydoll. I thought you said 'favyvall.' Yes, I knew where the doll was all along."

Figuring he must like babydolls, and since it's been my lifelong dream to have a child who is attached to a stuffed animal and/or babydoll, we brought one home from my mom's house.

J.J. named him Ajax, after his cousin in Boston, who is far from a newborn, but it works because J.J. claims his baby already knows how to walk. We all take turns picking up the baby because, frankly, as a three-year-old father, J.J.'s parenting skills are lacking. For instance, if he had to answer this multiple choice question, guess which answer he would choose.

When you bring the baby inside after a trip in the car, do you:

a. Occupy the baby with a favorite toy.
b. Feed the baby.
c. Drop the baby on the floor and leave him there for the remainder of the evening.

Like most toddlers, he would choose c. Which is why "Babies having babies" is a major problem in America.

He is good about taking the baby on outings, though. He and Francie took their babies to McDonald's together, which was really cute. Then, yesterday, we went out for another nutritious meal at McDonald's. Before leaving, J.J. put on his pointy, dark Batman sunglasses, which would be perfect for the batman fan who also happens to have cataracts. Then he picked up his babydoll and was ready to go. To where...I'm not sure. A "Take Your Grandchild to Your Optomologist Day"? A playdate with the Joker and his evil tot? Either would have worked.

Alas, it was trip to the D. When we walked into McDonald's, where we were meeting some families from Johnny and Richie's school, one of the kindergarteners asked loudly, "Why does J.J. have a babydoll?"

I held my breath. Oh, no, I thought, he's going to be embarrassed of his babydoll. His fatherhood days will be over!

Then I looked at J.J., who stared at the boy for a minute. J.J.'s dark Batman glasses rested precariously on the tip of his nose and he held his baby firmly, albeit upside down. Then he kept walking. He had things to do, Happy Meals to order.

That's the good thing about keeping busy. You have no time to worry about what others think. You just keep moving.


Blogger Tim Higgins said...


This posting concerns me, as the behaviors that you describe as JJ's often seem to fit my own. The aimless behavior, ability to be easily distracted, and similar ability to leave a trail of destruction behind me were simply things that I have always felt were part of my charm. Now I am less sure.

Since we met at the last "Turkey Bowl", I feel safe in saying that I am easily recognizable as being slightly older than 3. In fact, all but one of my children's children has crossed that mark. As such, I am very concerned.

You have presented a dilemna which make take some time to resolve. Is this Child-like, or simply childish? Is this youthful behavior or simply a failure to grow up? Should I seek to change or simply revel in the endearing nature (at least in 3 year olds)of such behavior?

I am going to put that Easter basket on my head and give this some considerable thought....

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody should even think about teasing JJ about having a doll. After he body slams them, he'll pile drive them and they'll wish they'd never met him!

5:43 PM  
Blogger Midwest Mama said...


I think the aimless behavior is a characteristic of three year olds...and writers. In fact, I have an Easter basket on my head even as we speak.


4:08 AM  

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