Bye, bye baby is what my two-year old grandson says to his reflection in the mirror. While he seems to understand that the baby is himself, fascination with the reflection in the mirror continues.
When I travel to Brooklyn these days, it rarely is about going into Manhattan to see shows or exhibitions. Attending music class, a story time trip to the library, playtime at the YMCA, or a visit to the playground is what brings me joy. A ride on the bus or train has become an activity in and of itself as much as it is a way to reach a destination.
Last week was my first time filling in for the vacationing babysitter. Being a grandparent of a toddler is a special thing. One sees the world with a fresh set of lenses. Babysitting is an awesome responsibility.
Dogs, grass, flowers, and water sprinklers must be examined carefully. Last summer and fall, playing in the water features of the public parks was quite the thing. This year, not so much – somehow, that water spray became scarier than it was a mere nine months ago. Slides and climbing structures have become more manageable, and less scary for a wary Grammy.
Two year olds like to run. Although my grandson will acquiesce to holding hands while crossing the street, or slow down when approaching strange dogs, he does not understand danger. Constant vigilance is essential.
Now that he has discovered the thrill of running, he also has developed a competitive spirit. Heaven forbid that anyone try to pass us by on the sidewalk. A cry goes up, “no!” “NO,” and those little legs start moving as fast as they can to stay ahead of the perceived interloper. As he runs, he frequently turns around to make sure that he is staying ahead, forgetting to watch where he is running. Apologies and explanations are in order as we pass.
This can be where one discovers the kindness of strangers. People of all ages, from elderly seniors to children on scooters, often will slow down to allow my grandson to be “the winner.” Once an adult jogger reached down to hold his hand for a half a block, running in place beside him at a two-year old pace (no danger, Mom and Dad were with us that day).
On another occasion, two teenage young men and their mother took the trouble to chase after us with the teddy bear that had somehow fallen unnoticed out of our grasp in the heat of the competition.
There is a special bond between children and vehicles, especially trains. The MTA Transit Museum is a wonderful place to visit, featuring a real station and vintage trains. My grandson’s toy trains, bus, and cars, some of which were purchased in the Museum’s gift shop, provide many hours of imaginative play and learning. But best of all is an actual trip on a real train.
Some years ago, I viewed an absolutely adorable video on Facebook of a little girl and her father waiting for a train. The excitement and absolute delight that registered on her face as the train approached the outdoor station was unforgettable
There were days last week when my grandson and I walked the half-mile journey to the train station to catch an F train with no particular destination in mind. Heading toward Coney Island, the best part for a two-year old is when the trains “go outside,” emerging from the tunnels and into the light. One can see playgrounds, cemeteries, houses, schools and more. We whizzed past cars, buses and trucks, slowed to a crawl on the expressway, proving that trains are a superior form of transportation.
At selected stations, we got off the train and walked over to the other side of the platform. There we waited for another train to return us to where we started.
Did I mention that spending time with a two-year old is exhausting? Naptimes are great. So was the pleasure of spending time with his mommy and daddy. Ten days went by quickly, and now I am home again in San Francisco. Can’t wait until my next visit. Bye, bye train! Bye, bye baby!