My new boss is utterly charming and often demanding.
He gets people to meet his high expectations with a disarming blend of spontaneity, guilelessness and wide-eyed innocence: Of course he is asking for the moon! Is that unusual or something?
He tends to speak in one-word commands: Sit, read, eat.
For his age, he is amazingly fit. If I tried to run, walk, crawl, jump, squat, kick, squirm and bounce for minutes on end, I’d be exhausted. He does it with little sign of strain.
To be sure, he gets tired, and when he does he crashes into a power nap that can last up to three hours. Then he is back expending extravagant amounts of energy, issuing orders, making clipped observations (“puppy”, “ball”, ” flower”) and generally just lighting up every room he enters.
It’s great to be 22 months old.
My transition from full-time to part-time columnist, effective last week, was highlighted by four trips to the playground, several hours on the floor with toys and what seemed like 117 recitations of “The Runaway Bunny.” As I said, my new boss — who is also my grandson — has high expectations.
My wife has been his part-time babysitter since shortly after his birth, and now I have joined the staff.
We were well-acquainted, but I had to learn some of the subtleties of the daily routine. Why, in midafternoon, did he suddenly start saying “mailbox”?
Because that’s when the mail comes, and it has been his job to fetch it. Toddlers have their habits, and you interfere with them at your own peril.
If he hands you a 300-page gardening book and insistently says something that you mishear as “home,” it means you are to find a particular picture therein, not of a home but of a gnome. Don’t you understand English, Poppy?
But we got in sync quickly, partly because we have some of the same preferences. We both like to eat breakfast twice. We both like to play with a ball, although I favor more-traditional games while he thinks it’s fun to just toss it into a thicket of shrubs and then wait for his grandfather to retrieve it.
Well, you can’t talk a toddler out of his fascinations. If he wants me to dive into the shrubbery, that’s what I’ll do, hopeful that within 15 minutes he will hit on some new, less scratchy way to amuse us.
One of his favorite words at the moment seems to be “tunnel.” So I made block tunnels, and he tested their structural integrity by destroying them. Then he would say “tunnel” again and the process began anew.
Frustrating? Not a bit. Whether the tunnel stood for 10 seconds or 10 hours didn’t matter. Ultimately, we’re building something bigger, my boss and I.