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Toddler Next Door
By Susan Olling

If every day’s a new adventure when you’re a toddler, according to Mr. History, our little neighbor has been having quite a few adventures.  Oliver’s tall for his age: two-and-one-half but wears clothing for four-year-olds.

When he first started to make intelligible sounds, Oliver learned to say “fork”.  Well, he meant an eating utensil.  However, the “r” sound was missing, so it sounded like a not-so-nice word.  When adults laughed, he just kept saying it.  After all, these old people thought he was funny.

Our little neighbor doesn’t talk to strangers much.  Yet.  That’s OK, when he does start talking to everyone in sight, the mute button in his programming will be disabled.  Probably much to the dismay of his mom and dad.

Oliver was helping his dad wash their vehicle and had a wonderful time with the hose.  Mr. History was out and noticed that His Eminence had not one but two black eyes.  Earlier in the week,  he used the living room couch as a trampoline, slipped, and did a face plant into the coffee table.  Ouch.  Hit his nose (not broken) with the black eyes as a result.  This kid knows how to play for sympathy.  He brightened up when Mr. History asked him if mommy made the booboo better.  “Yes”, with a grin.  

I’d been on the computer one evening and decided that, since it was dark, I should probably close the living room curtains.  What a surprise: a large ladder truck had snuck down to our end of the street.  Backward.  And quietly.  Didn’t even hear the engine Idling.  Grandma was holding Little Neighbor (he was holding his Kermie), and his mom was standing with them.  No sign of a fire.  I didn’t go out to investigate further, just watched.  This long-time member of the C/MHDNNA (Chestnut/Meem Historic District Nosy Neighbor Association—we had neighborhood watch before the signs went up) saw no need to embarrass Mrs. Neighbor.  Later we found out that Oliver was playing with the doorknob, which had a lock in it, and locked himself in his bedroom.  (The previous owner of the house put doorknobs with locks on all the bedroom doors.  When he moved out, he didn’t leave keys.)  Oliver’s parents didn’t see the need to do anything all these years until His Eminence got curious.  His mom called a locksmith and was told that she should call 911 because of the age of the person on the other side of the door.  Oliver was understandably most upset: sticking his fingers under the door, crying, and wanting mommy hugs.  Until he saw the flashing lights outside his bedroom window (“fire truck”).  Instant quiet.  The firefighters assured his mother that they got kids out of all sorts of things and offered suggestions for replacement doorknobs.  The firefighters took progressively larger tools into the house to get the door open.  Mom sent a text to dad, all upper case, about changing all the doorknobs the next day.   The in-laws weren’t going to leave until dad got home from work—afraid mom would go into labor.  I rather think staying was Grandma’s idea.   Grandpa was a Marine officer in Vietnam—not likely to get excited these days (but he does look like he could still give orders).  Grandpa was inside taking the offending doorknob out of the door. The next morning, Oliver said “door broken” when he saw his bedroom door.  He’d apparently forgotten being trapped.  See also the first sentence of this piece.

He has a new job these days: being a big brother.  Oliver understood he was getting a little brother, but he had a harder time realizing that little brother would be living with them.  When baby brother first came home, Oliver asked when his mom and dad were going to take little brother back to the hospital and return him.   These days, though, Big Brother likes to help push the stroller.

Mr. History’s really cool, according to two-and-one-half-year-olds: he has a motorcycle (I’m just the old lady who lives with Mr. History).  One recent day, the three boys were coming back from a walk.  The bike was at the end of our driveway when they were coming up the street.  One of the boys was giving the trike a long look and wanted to watch it for a while.  But daddy said it was lunch time.  Mr. History knows how he can recycle his HOG magazines: take them next door.  Oliver was quite happy to get a magazine about motorcycles.  Every night, the two big boys look at the magazine.  Getting ideas, no doubt, not that Oliver needs any more.

His dad will be going to FLETC in a few weeks.  In case Mrs. Neighbor needs a break from Number One Son, Mr. History is willing to volunteer to push the little guy on his swing.

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