It is always a mystery as to what will make a toddler happy. When E's older cousin S came to visit, the single most popular activity was jumping on the air mattress we had set up for S to sleep on. We have a house FULL of toys and books...you know, the typical toddler paradise. But running in circles and jumping head first into the comforter and pillow was apparently the best of the best. It was just wonderful to have S in the house for a few days. Another person, especially one as easygoing and baby-loving as my niece, helps change up the energy and improve the atmosphere. And S didn't seem to mind having her bed used as a trampoline...in fact I think she liked it.
One afternoon, S and I took E to the local children's museum. I figured E was old enough to enjoy at least some of the displays, and we might get lucky and drain some of that boundless energy she possesses. Well, we did drain some energy...but not E's. We spent a good hour and a half chasing her around from room to room, where she would climb on, poke, or grab at some gadget and then run away screaming with happiness. She did show some momentary interest in digging for dinosaur bones, and she spent about 5 minutes splashing in the water table. At a craft station, she patiently handed about 10 colored beads to S, who strung them into a dinosaur tooth necklace. Besides that, running was the activity of choice. The only place she stopped voluntarily was inside the model of a human heart. She went in through the swinging doors of a heart valve, and sat herself down happily in the left ventricle. Two or three times, in our running laps around the other exhibits, she would enter the heart and sit down in the same place. Why did that spot make her happy? Your guess is as good as mine. But I can say that the toy industry is off their mark...in E's life, a cardboard box, some magic markers, and a tennis ball are all the toys we really need. That and a left ventricle.