As I wrestled the 2-year-old into his pajamas and he threw a crisp, violent uppercut at my head to show his appreciation, it occurred to me what a wonderful life the boy leads.
Let's face it, there is basically no pressure on you when you're 2.
First you ease into the day with a little Barney the dinosaur on TV. Then it's on to "Sesame Street" to see what's happening with Bert and Ernie and then -- where does the time go? -- someone's serving you breakfast.
After that you color for a while, or take the Big Wheel for a spin, or play with your toy trucks. Then it's time for lunch. And after that -- this is the part that's truly amazing -- they'll ask if you're ready for a nap!
Here you haven't done a thing all morning -- nothing productive, at any rate. And people are asking if you want to lie down!
In fact, they'll actually carry you to your room and tuck you in. Then if anybody makes any noise, everyone in the house goes "Shhhh!" as if the pope was sleeping in the next bedroom.
(Just try taking a nap when you're an adult. Even before you drift off, someone will be poking you in the back with a broom handle and telling you to get off your duff and go rake the leaves.)
When you're 2, you get to eat what you want, too. If you don't like the green beans on your plate, hey, don't eat 'em! You might even fling your plate on the floor. What are your parents gonna do? Send you to your room? Yell at you? Let's face it, at age 2, you're basically immune to criticism.
When you're 2, you get to wear the coolest clothes, too, all sorts of neat T-shirts and overalls, and no one calls you a hayseed or a greaser.
It's hard to believe, but people will actually compliment you on your underwear! Your mom will be dressing you and your dad will peek his head in the room and say: "Hey, what do you have there, partner? Thomas the Train undies? Boy, that's cool!"
It makes you feel like a million bucks. And it's the same with pajamas. All you have to do is come downstairs at bedtime in a snazzy pair of Barbie jammies and people will make such a big fuss you'd think Hillary Clinton just walked into the room.
When you're 2, you have absolutely no financial problems, either. You don't even have to carry money.
When you and your family go to McDonald's, no one expects you to reach in your pocket and say: "Here, lemme get the Big Macs . . ."
Or when your parents pull their car up to the gas pump, no one's waiting for you to whip out your Sunoco credit card and say: "Dad, I got the gas. No, c'mon, you bought last time."
In fact, even though you never offer to pay for a single thing, people will insist on buying you things.
If you're in the drugstore staring longingly at the M&M;'s, the odds are good that one of your parents will notice and buy the M&M;'s for you.
Here you didn't say a word and you end up with a 55-cent package of candy. I don't see how you can beat that.
Another neat thing about being 2: You have your very own seat in the car.
Everybody else in the family has to scramble for a seat; your brothers and sisters are always elbowing each other and whining: "I got the front seat!"
But you never have to sink to that level. You can remain nice and calm. Because you know where you're sitting.
When you're 2, people are impressed by the most innocuous things you do.
Try this little experiment: Grab a crayon, scribble a few lines on a piece of paper, and hand it to your parents. Now watch them ooh and aah about what a great picture you drew.
Let's face it, anyone with any brains can see it's junk. But your parents will go nuts over it anyway.
Nine times out of 10, they'll even pin your, ahem, artwork to the refrigerator with one of those little pineapple magnets.
You'll be sitting there shaking your head and thinking, "Geez, it's just a bunch of squiggly lines," but your parents will be carrying on like it's a Monet.
It's the same thing when you put on your shoes by yourself. Let's face it: There's nothing to putting on a pair of shoes, even at age 2. You open the Velcro tabs, stick your feet in, and pull the tabs over. No big deal, right?
Right. But do it in front of your parents and they'll practically turn cartwheels. They might even buy you an ice cream! Just for putting on your shoes!
And for the rest of the day they'll be talking about you like you're another Jonas Salk.
It doesn't take much to make some people happy, that's for sure.