Every time we are riding the elevator and someone joins us he'll greet them with a cheerful hello and make sure they know that he's doing well and we're riding the elevator, followed by details of where we're going - to the store or the pool or the park or the car. With his white-blonde hair and cheerful grin, nobody can resist him. I can hardly resist him myself.
Which is probably a good thing because not only is he the cutest two year-old I've had, he is also by far the most destructive. I should have been wary when the ripped up board books started littering the floor around his crib when he was about eighteen months old. Occasionally I would throw one into his bed at nap time, hoping that it would buy me a half hour more of silence. And it did - but at the cost of a board book each time. These board books had made it through Joseph's three older siblings with the usual damage - corners chewed on, covers scratched - but they didn't survive Joseph.
I remember my mother-in-law recounting the two year-old days of her own troublemaker. "It was a constant stream of messes," she remembered, shaking her head in twenty-five years of disbelief, "as soon as I would clean up one mess, I'd find the next one. I just followed him around the house cleaning up messes all day long." When I first heard this story, pre-children and pre-Joseph, I couldn't believe that any one child could be that bad. And then I had Joseph.
On any given day he will find any useful vessel, fill it full of water, and then dump all of the sidewalk chalk he can find in it. He calls this 'making lemonade.' I have a jar of 'lemonade' on my counter right now. This morning he decided that the cheese grater and my mixer beaters would make a perfect accompaniment to my breakfast preparations.
One morning he was out on our balcony when he started wailing. Evidently he had decided that a pvc pipe, rope and plastic fish (from Eleanor's play gym) would make the perfect fishing kit to dangle over the edge of the seventh floor railing. Thankfully grass grows at the bottom of that particular drop and the fish was apparently unharmed.
One day I couldn't find my glasses and set everyone looking for them with no results. A few days later, Sophia found them stuffed into the hole in our computer speakers. And after shaking the speakers, we also found the golf ball Joseph had picked up in our parking lot. It's still there.
Not only is Joseph destructive, he is acquisitive and in love with all things electronic. My cameras have permanent two year-old fingerprint smudges on the lenses and a lot of Joseph self portraits on the memory card. After defending my keys from him for years, I finally gave up and bought his own set of keys for him, which he keeps next to his pillow at night. Same for the old cell phone he acquired, which thankfully can't call 911 (which he did with my phone while we were at the park last week).
He also managed to acquire an old baby monitor and likes to turn it to static as loudly as possible and pretend that he's unlocking our car. An old USB drive from college is the 'movie maker.' One day I found the door to my room open, Eleanor awake, and cord to the baby monitor gone. Joseph had happily hooked it up to a duplo contraption he had made and was 'vacuuming the floor, Mommy,' quite contentedly.
Living up to his monkey name, he will climb any shelf to get to food that he wants. One day he discovered that Brandon and I keep our secret chocolate stash in our closet, right below a stack of bins holding Eleanor's clothes. A few days later he nonchalantly walked into my room, stole a glance at me and shut himself up in the closet. I opened the door a minute later just in time to save most of my Lindt caramel truffles from a heathen palate. His sisters have learned the hard way to keep their candy out of sight of their little brother who considers something open to pillaging unless expressly forbidden.
I know that one day Joseph will grow out of his Acts and so I don't worry too much. They're even kind of funny. But it's a good thing he's so cute.