Motherhood

Why Going Places With a Toddler Is Actually The Best

I had lunch with a friend today. It was splendid, absolutely something I should do more often. My two-year-old finishes his playgroup around lunchtime, so I picked up him before I went to the bagel shop to meet my friend.

He’s a happy, busy little guy, and while we waited for my friend to come, he occupied himself by taking everything out of my purse and then putting it back in. He took off his coat and his Mickey Mouse hat, and then, when my friend pulled up, he decided the hat needed to go back on.

It’s a red hat with a yellow bill. Mickey Mouse’s face is on the front and the iconic black circle ears stick up from the top of the hat. Objectively, it is adorable.

There was a zaidy there who noticed the hat and began a conversation with my little guy. They talked all about Disneyworld, Mickey Mouse, bagels, cookies, soda, who else in our family has a hat (everyone got mentioned by name), you know, all the important things in life and society.

This led to an adult conversation as well, and we talked about how the Federation in Cleveland is unique in its funding of schools (though Baltimore has a great Federation, too, I think). He told me about how Cleveland has the largest number of Jewish children enrolled in Jewish day schools. It was a nice conversation. Toddler as an introduction to social interaction.

Then, in a heartwarming and surprising moment, this man asked if my son had any allergies, and when I responded that he didn’t, he handed my son a bag with a giant smiley face cookie in it.

It was such a wonderful and unexpected moment of kindness.

As if that weren’t enough toddler-sponsored niceness for one day, there was a couple at the next table over, a couple with eastern European accents, and they also engaged my son and me in conversation.

There’s something about small children (assuming they’re not in the middle of a tantrum or random yelling, of course) which brings happiness to people, especially to grandparents (not just grandparents the small child is related to, but random people who happen to be grandparents).

Maybe it’s seeing the innocence and joy that comes with the world of a toddler. The excitement over something as simple as his brothers and sister also having hats. The endless curiosity, the relish that each new discovery brings.

If I hadn’t had my son with me, it still would have been a lovely outing with a friend. But because I brought my little portable joy-maker with me I had a lunch full of connection with other members of the Jewish community, and I felt like I made everyone’s day a little brighter just by going out of the house with my kid.

Typically, toddlers are not easy (though, seriously, what age is easy? Each age and stage has its own unique challenges). They are high-maintenance little people. I spent most of Friday chasing him after his multiple escapes from the house (kid can unlock a deadbolt, time for childproof door handles chez Silver), and often I avoid running errands with him because it’s just faster to do it myself.

But after this delightful outing, maybe I will bring him around a little more, spread the joy while I can. Because yes, it goes so fast, and before I know it he will be bigger, the chubby fingers and baby face will make way for the leaner body of an active boy.

 

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6 thoughts on “Why Going Places With a Toddler Is Actually The Best

  1. I like kids, and I’m told I’m good with them, but I don’t often get the chance to play with them. My cousins live in Israel and anyway aren’t so young any more (two in their twenties, two teenagers and one still pre-bar mitzvah). I see my second cousins’ children occasionally.

    A while back I was on the Tube (London Underground) with a Muslim woman sitting next to me with her very active and curious toddler who I played with a little. Makes me wonder if Jews and Muslims could come together with cute kids, maybe there would be peace.

  2. Toddlers as an ice-breaker and conversation-starter – I like that! I have to admit, I’ve been very reluctant to take my just-turned-3 daughter anywhere except playgrounds and parks where she can run around to her heart’s content. I should try taking her to a local cafe and see if we can make some friends – I usually feel awkward talking to strangers, but maybe it will be good for me (you know, stepping out of comfort zone and all that).

    Years ago, I had a professor who was very reserved and reluctant to meet new people (he was a very nice guy, just not an extravert.) Once, he happened to bring his toddler son to a dinner party with other scientists. That toddler was extraordinarily social and happy to meet new people – my professor had to chase him all over the room. By the end of an evening, he has met and “networked” with most of the other guests -he said this would have never happened without his son.

  3. Not relevant to this, but I thought you might be interested since you have been kind enough to praise my writing, even when I hijack your Hevria posts: after Shabbos today I started a new blog https://visionofthenight.wordpress.com/ . It’s a work in progress and I am not sure how it will develop, but I hope to write about the mental health issues that affect me (depression, OCD, borderline Asperger’s Syndrome, something similar to social anxiety) from a Jewish perspective, albeit a sociological one as much as a religious one. That is to say, I don’t at this stage see myself writing explicitly religious posts (e.g. divrei Torah), just posts about suffering mental health issues in a community somewhat different to the secular (post)modern norm. The guest posts I wrote for denofgeek.com, hevria.com and popchassid.com that I link to near the end of the introductory post give an idea of the type of style I am aiming for.

    No obligation to read, but I’d love to hear feedback from you. Shavua tov!

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