Now he gets into all sorts of trouble in the five minutes it takes to put little brother P to bed. The other night I was listening to P give that final sigh of "I feel safe and now I will sleep" when quite another sort of sound issued forth from C's playroom. It was a cascading, as of cereal hitting a plate, and then the table, and then the floor, in a great waterfall. I didn't even bother rushing to stymie this disaster because by the time the first sound wave reached my ears, it was already too late.
You see, toddlers don't pour food from a box just because they are hungry. Hunger may not even enter into the equation. What is most fascinating about an upturned box is the glorious display of gravity, so that when it is all over you imagine your kid saying, "Look! Every single cheerio fell out of the box! Gravity sure is thorough." They are so excited about this fact that you can't even get mad.
So, I went into the room and showed C how to put the cereal back in the box, which earned me an entire C-handful's worth of help. He did, amazingly, eat some of the spilled food around his plate, which was just as well because I wasn't going to hunt down every piece of it any way. Once C was satiated, I put the box back away, a little higher this time, and started our bedtime rituals.
As he was sitting in my lap listening to Go Dog Go, I noticed a strange mark on his arm. It was a line with four clearly delineated segments, the outer two of which almost meet. "Is that... a square?" Suddenly the fact that C had played so quietly in his room was no longer a mystery. He had found an indelible marker and, delighting in his illicit goods, had meticulously drawn triangles and squares on every available appendage. I was torn between amazement at his ability to draw recognizable geometric shapes, and horror at imagining said artistry applied directly to my walls. And remember that after he decorated himself, he got down the cereal box and poured the entire thing out over the table.
All in five minutes. Imagine if he'd been left to his devices for ten!