Posted by: laughs4dads | February 15, 2010

Quality Time, Part I

One of the nice things about having a toddler is being able to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon holed up in your cozy home in the bosom of family, going very rapidly insane.

To know what I’m talking about here you have to understand that a toddler is like a car with only two gears: overdrive and park.  Either the engine is off entirely or it is racing; the concept of idling in neutral is completely foreign.

A toddler must be kept entertained during all waking hours, and it is simply not possible to do this, indoors, for a full day, especially when the individual you are trying to entertain has an attention span of about 4.8 seconds.

Here are the high points of a typical rainy day with my daughter Casey when she was about two, and my wife, Barbara, and I were still mentally stable:

8:00 AM Barbara and I are awakened by the sound of Casey talking to her stuffed animals.  We look out the window and see the rain.  Then we look at each other.  We wonder how long we can stall taking her out of her crib.  We know every minute will count.

8:02 AM We take Casey out of her crib.  Her mystical sixth sense told her we were awake.  We take her into our room and play on the bed for as long as we can hold her attention.

8:05 AM Barb takes her downstairs while I shower and dress.  Then I go out to do my Saturday morning errands like picking up the dry cleaning and buying milk.  There is no way to stretch these errands beyond a half hour, even if I see how far I can get the car to coast without stepping on the gas.  Briefly, I entertain the notion of getting really fresh milk–at a farm.

9:00 AM I sit down to eat breakfast while Casey perches in front of the TV to watch “Cartoons Intended to Sell A Large-and-Expensive Line of Toys.”  Because she hasn’t yet figured out that, as a child, she is supposed to ask her parents to buy the things she sees on television, she misses the entire point of the program, and is pulling at my leg even before I can finish buttering my toast.

9:08 AM I offer to let Casey butter my toast.  She accepts my invitation with enthusiasm and begins spreading.   Meanwhile, the phone rings and I am momentarily distracted.  When I return to the table, I find that Casey has elevated dairy art to a heretofore unparalleled level of sophistication, not to mention sheer butter density.  I spend several minutes attempting to locate the original slice of toast which, in the end, I discover under the table.  It is virtually the only object in the room without butter on it.

9:37 AM Barbara and I finish cleaning up the butter.  Casey has found this process to be highly entertaining, and has been laughing uncontrollably while Barb and I were trying to find a way to wipe up gobs of butter without simply smearing it even more.  It’s possible that if we get desperate later on, we’ll intentionally spread butter on everything just so we can keep Casey amused for a few minutes.

9:45 AM What can we do today, we wonder.  We sit down in the living room to think about it.  Meanwhile Casey indulges in one of her favorite activities, which is singing “The Alphabet Song” in a key that is unknown to the human range of hearing.  This makes rational thought extremely difficult.

9:57 AM Among the ideas we come up with are killing 45 minutes at a pet shop looking at hamsters and spending a few hours at the shopping mall.  In a moment of complete insanity (it must be the singing), we decide that we should be able to get through the day on our own resources.

9:59 AM Casey is still singing “The Alphabet Song.”  She is now accompanying herself on toy piano.

10:00 AM We begin to doubt our own resources.  I wonder aloud if we might not invite Casey’s Uncle Gary and Aunt Karen over, but Barb says they have a wedding to go to.  I call my parents, who are almost always willing to visit their granddaughter, but they have already gone out.

10:11 AM
I suggest we invite my great Uncle Jerry, who lives in Florida, and who I have not seen for about 19 years.

10:21 AM We let Casey feed our two goldfish.

10:58 AM Barbara goes upstairs to shower and I am left to my own devices.  Casey brings over her Oscar and Grover puppets and I put them on.  I adopt my Oscar and Grover voices, both of which sound suspiciously like old Jewish men, and begin a conversation.  Beyond “hello” and “gee, it’s raining out,” I can’t think of much for Oscar and Grover to say to each other.  Casey solves this problem by bringing over her Bert and Ernie puppets.

11:15 AM Barbara comes back downstairs.  It takes her a moment or two to find me.  I am buried under two dozen or so hand puppets, all of whom sound like rabbis.

Wednesday: The Day Continues




  1. this brings back fond (and not-so-fond) memories! keep up the good work!

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