Life through the eyes of a child

Published 10:39 am Thursday, May 28, 2015

At almost two years of age, our grandson is growing at warp speed. Last week, he let me push him around the block in a baby stroller, this week he’s offended by the idea. Mr. Independence wants to stand on his own two feet wherever we go. He also seems interested in everything new and takes his time to check out every discovery.  He’s certainly teaching me the value of taking my time. If you want to freshen your perspective, try hanging out with a toddler.

Yesterday we walked to the mailbox together. A trip that can usually be accomplished in fifteen minutes took the better part of an hour. Who knew that our suburban sidewalk was so filled with science projects? Doodle bugs, snails, beetles, even that large crack in the cement required careful study.

Walking the block with an extraverted toddler is like taking a cheerleader to the prom. Both attract attention. Neighbors who have never spoken to me before crossed the street to make our acquaintance. Shep is a pint-sized ambassador.  I tried to keep him close, but those little legs can move a lot faster than you might think.

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One day last week, we went out for an evening stroll.  The lady who lives across the street drove into her driveway while we were passing in front of her house. “Hi”, yelled the little guy as she climbed out of her car. She whipped around to see who was speaking and laughed when she spotted him standing there in a diaper and T shirt.  I laughed, too.  There is something comical about a big voice coming from a little kid. She and I haven’t exchanged 5 words since we have been neighbors. Nothing personal, we just adhere to different schedules. As a result, I thought nothing of it when she gathered her things and retreated inside.

A minute later she reappeared with a bag of cat treats and held them out. “Would you like to feed my kitty?” she asked and poured a few goodies into his chubby little hand. The grey and black feline, who had been lurking behind a nearby tree, glided over and began eating out of his hand. “I’ve never seen a cat do that,” I said. “Come to think of it,” she responded, “neither have I.”

On another occasion, a teen aged girl three doors down was loading her car when we walked past her house.  He called out to her, too. When she came over, he held his arms out. Well, she was beautiful. “Would you like to meet my dog?” she offered and went inside for her pet. I’d never met him either.  At 6 pounds, he was neither bite nor bark with round, black eyes that peered at us suspiciously. We got to know a few things about our human neighbor that afternoon but the dog did more burrowing into his owners arms than bonding with Shep. I’m thinking of hiring him out for Neighborhood Watch. The toddler, not the terrier.

Yesterday we had the best walk yet.  That’s because of what happened at the end.  We had already gone inside when I heard the familiar music. “The ice cream truck!” I yelled. Jimmy ran for his wallet while I scooped up Shepherd. We met at the truck window to place our orders.

The brightly colored vehicle had parked in front of our neighbor Joe’s house so we sat on his grass while waiting for our snow cone treat. Joe declined our offer for a frozen dessert, he’s more of a chips and salsa kind of guy, but he stayed to chat for a few minutes while our favorite toddler chased his dog, Jack up and down the sidewalk.

Every so often, Shep came back to check on his people.  The toddler appears to like us almost as much as the canine community.  He is definitely making a name for himself in our neighborhood. Come to think of it, he’s making a name for us, too. Is it my imagination or is this place getting friendlier? Perhaps things look better through the eyes of a child.

Donia Caspersen Crouch was raised in Southeast Texas and lives in Austin. Want more?  Donia’s  Stories of Hope and Humor can be ordered at