The two-year-old looked up at me as I dragged him away from the DVD player. He wasn’t happy. “Grandma No-No,” he grumbled. I giggled at his pronouncement, but I could see why I had earned that moniker.
His intelligence, curiosity, and fearlessness – all good traits – kept me on my toes.
He wanted to learn the how and the why of everything, but had to be redirected constantly. If it was within his reach, he inspected it to learn its purpose. The electrical socket and the DVD cabinet called to him only because it got a huge reaction from the adults. He saw no difference between his Super Hero toys and the expensive knick knacks on the coffee table. If it made a noise, tore at the mere touch, or bounced, it was his.
He soon learned that his height kept him from reaching things grownups didn’t want him to have, so he taught himself to climb. I watched as he pulled cushions off couches or dragged chairs into position so he could mountain climb from one to the other. I let him do it only once so that I could prevent it from happening again. Just as he reached his prize, I plucked him away. His anger soon appeased if I distracted him with the hundreds of books and toys he owned.
When his circle of discovery expanded into other rooms, I followed him. I emptied the bottom cabinets in the kitchen and left only the pots, pans, and plastic ware he could turn into drums, hats, and building blocks. The bathroom door remained closed at all times for obvious reasons, but to make up for limiting his exploration of the terrain, I sat for hours on the floor with him playing with his toys and reading to him.
My list of no-nos changed as he grew. No food outside of the kitchen since milk or juice bottles might spill on the sofa or the carpet, and it took only once for him to catapult off his bed for me to rule on “no, no more jumping on the bed.” I wasn’t trying to be a Mrs. Trunchbull. My no-nos were because I loved this fearless, little boy, and I worried about his safety. I wanted to encourage his curiosity and intelligence, but I was also willing to gain a no-no reputation to ensure he got to share it with the world.