I have lots of memories going back to the ages of 2 and 3, which I understand is not very common.
This memory: There was a Dairy Queen across the street which was either selling or giving away whistles with a purchase. I was determined to get one of those whistles. My parents, quite understandably, did not want to give a toddler a whistle. I failed to see their logic at the time. Little did they know it, but I had figured out how to open the back door. The back yard fence was taller than I was, but I had also figured out how to unlatch the back gate. Which I did.
Now, we were also across the street from a busy train crossing. I knew I wasn’t supposed to cross the street because of the cars. But I had observed that when the railroad crossing arm came down all the cars came to a halt. So I found a long stick, held it horizontally to my body in order to create my own “crossing arm” and crossed the street. It worked! All the cars came to a halt. Of course it didn’t occur to me that they came to a halt BECAUSE THERE WAS A THREE YEAR OLD WITH A STICK CROSSING THE STREET. I made it to the Dairy Queen, but of course I didn’t understand a thing about money – I figured they’d just give me the whistle if I asked for it. They didn’t.
My own memory stops there. My mother filled in the rest of the story by telling me how someone rang the doorbell. She went to answer it, and found a strange man outside, with me in tow. He asked, “Is this your kid?”
In recent years, I figured if this had happened now my mom would have been arrested for child endangerment. I’m glad this isn’t necessarily the case.
So, memo to anyone who cares for children: Most kids are smart and spend their time figuring things out. You have to be ahead of the game.