I was watching our 3-year-old grandson, Adler, while his mom and dad were working on “his” new house. Surrounding us were moving boxes and stacks of clothing.
Adler showed me a plastic grocery bag filled with an unlikely assortment of dinosaurs, an octopus, a squid, something that looked like Godzilla and a random ocelot.
We lined up the creatures on the coffee table, marched them over mountains made of T-shirts, pretended they were drinking at a lake made out of a paper plate and held pretend wrestling matches to see which one was the strongest.
When we were done, Adler was ready to play restaurant.
“Let’s pick up the dinosaurs first,” I suggested. “We’re going to need the table for your restaurant food.”
“No, we won’t,” he argued, ready to move on to the next adventure.
“The dinosaurs need to go back into their bag for the night,” I said. “I heard that Miss Ashley said you are the best picker-upper at school. And the fastest.”
There was a glint in his eye. “I am,” he said as he ran into the kitchen. “But the dinosaurs don’t have a bag anymore. It’s in the trash can now, and it’s all icky.”
I’ve raised four children, taught preschoolers and outwitted more toddlers than I can count.
“That’s OK,” I said. “I have a better bag in my purse. How about I pick up the ocelot, and you pick up the squid? Isn’t there a song you sing to help with toy pickup?”
That got his attention! “Two minutes to pick up toys, pick up toys, pick up toys. One minute to pick up toys . . .” we sang loudly, but all of a sudden the song turned into a rousing rendition of “The ants go marching one by one,” and he marched back and forth over the many dinosaurs still on the floor.
“That was great!” I said. “Let’s put the dinosaurs to bed now.”
“But they need a bedtime story,” he said. Of course they did. And they got one. Goodnight Moon.
“Now they’re ready to go to sleep, Grandma, but they need a good-night kiss,” he said. “I’ll cook you a pizza just the way you like it at my restaurant while you put them to bed.”
The kid is good; I’ll give him that.