Hello, young toddler

What are you looking at, kid? Haven’t you ever seen a guy working in his yard?

Ever since I saw you coming down the street in front of my house, I knew you’d be trouble. Your grandfather was pushing your stroller, and not looking all that thrilled about it. My guess is that your parents guilt-tripped him into taking some “quality time” with you, so the two of you could get some fresh air while your mom and dad napped. Wisely, he had brought his cell phone along and so was mostly oblivious to the young life he pushed along in front of him.

I guess you got bored with the scenery of the neighborhood pretty quickly. And that’s why your eyes have locked onto me and won’t let go.

What is it with you babies? There’s a whole wonder-filled world that is new to you, and yet every time you see a stranger up close in public, you watch them like a hawk. Mine is a neighborhood filled with natural beauty that you’d think a toddler would appreciate — squirrels, birds, rabbits, that house next door that burned down a few weeks ago and still hasn’t been cleaned out. Why must you stare incessantly in my direction?

Am I supposed to entertain you? Let’s see, I think I have my car keys here somewhere — should I hold them up and jingle them for your entertainment? Should I wave? Make a funny face? Smile?

You’re putting too much pressure on me. I didn’t know I needed to have a whole stand-up act prepared before I decided to spend Saturday afternoon picking up branches and other debris left in the yard after a recent spring storm. What do I look like, Howie Mandell?

Don’t answer that.

You’d think that you’d just be drinking in all the scenery that life has to offer. The first year or so of your life, you probably didn’t really comprehend the world around you. Your view was focused narrowly on the essentials you needed for survival, things like your dad preparing to change your diaper and your mom preparing to nurse you. I’ve seen your mom walking around the neighborhood, and I can understand your fascination with her breasts, but even that has to get old after a while.

Before birth, all you saw was the inside of a womb. Lots of tubes and membranes and red stuff that had to be pretty boring. In fact, I doubt you even saw that, now that I think about it. There’s no light in there, right? And even if someone slipped you a flashlight up the birth canal, I think you’re eyes are still closed at that point in your development anyway.

Or maybe I’m thinking of kittens.

Regardless, I don’t appreciate being the momentary focus of your world. I spend my entire day trying to fly under the radar of recognition, trying to go about my routines without garnering the attention of those around me. I rarely speak to my coworkers. I go down the dog food aisle of the grocery store, even though I don’t have a dog, if I happen to see someone I know coming toward me in the grocery store. I stare straight ahead when I’m stopped at a red light, eager to avoid provoking the road rage I suspect is seething in the car next to me.

So why would I want to interact with an infant? Sure, you’re cute and all that. And you do bring to mind fond memories of when my son was a newborn. I’ll admit, there would be a certain satisfaction in approaching your stroller and offering you a big hug, maybe nuzzling your little baby neck in the way that affectionate adults do, saying “You’re so darling, I want to eat you up.”

But, as I mentioned, grandpa has a cellphone and, if I want to continue my success thus far in staying off the Registered Sex Offenders List, I should probably keep my distance.

Maybe you could come over here, to where I’m working to pick up all the twigs that now cover my yard. You seem like you’re built close to the ground; maybe you could help. My back is killing me what with all this bending over. You could probably just crawl amidst the debris and much of it will stick to that Velcro diaper cover of yours. Then we hold you over the yard waste collection bin I got from the city, and wiggle you about until everything falls off.

No, you’ve passed me now and are headed off further down the road. Still, you twist and crane your neck, watching to make sure I’m not about to break into a Barney imitation, or whatever big-eyed costumed character your demographic is into these days. Don’t worry; you’re not going to miss anything worthwhile, unless you’re bizarrely into the joys of yardwork at the tender of age of two.

Bye-bye, little one. I figure it’s okay to wave to you now, since you’re far enough away that I’m likely able to limit my interaction with you to a fluttering of my hand. I don’t expect you to wave back. I know that the only thing more poorly developed than your intellectual skills at such a young age is your dexterity. Wouldn’t want the precious baby to possibly topple out of his stroller.

Ill be resuming my raking now, confident that I’ll never see you again. May you have a good life, full of love and happiness and health and wealth. Sorry about that whole national debt thing that you’ll be paying off for me over the course of your lifetime. We didn’t mean to stick with you such burden but — hey — stuff happens.

Oh no! You’re turning around in the cul-de-sac and headed back in my direction!

I think I better get started on that raking in the backyard.

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One Response to “Hello, young toddler”

  1. LetUsAllUsPlayDominoes Says:

    As a church music director, I spend my time in church in a gallery choir loft upstairs at the back. I have a great bird’s-eye view of everyone from behind, and so I like to wave at babies that parents are holding over their shoulders. The baby will become very excited and begin pointing up at me, so naturally I’ll immediately turn away and act like I’m looking in the other direction. The parents never seem to figure out the hidden communication that goes on behind their backs!

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