Toddlers get a bad rap sometimes, for obvious reasons. Their casual disdain for avoiding public humiliation, the way they suddenly morph into a screaming, clingy demon with an insatiable urge to be attached to your pantleg the moment you open the refrigerator to begin making dinner, their uncanny knack for abandoning their contented, independent play time as soon as you sit down to make a phone call…I could write a whole post called 25 Reasons Why Toddlers Suck, but in an effort to stay positive, I’m going to focus instead on the perks of living with a toddler. Mostly because there have been many moments like this in the past few weeks:
that have caused me to step up my effort to have a good attitude. So here goes:
- Toddlers make you appreciate the little things. You know, like trucks and goats. To put it more eloquently, when sharing your life with a toddler, you are constantly exposed to the sheer wonder of life. When driving anywhere with my toddler, I find myself enthusiastically pointing out every single horse, dog, and goose, and loudly mimicking their noises for her amusement. And trains? That’s like the toddler car-ride jackpot. How many times in the past week have I seamlessly shifted into my high, screechy, needs-medication voice to announce, “Looook!!!! There’s a tra-ai-n out Sophie’s window! Chugga chugga WOO WOO!!!” And the funny thing is, I don’t even feel stupid. I feel genuinely delighted when I notice something, like a squirrel in our backyard, that I know is going to excite her. I distinctly remember arriving at the end of that stage with Izzy; one day in the car, I felt compelled to point out a horse, and commented to my husband that nobody really gave a shit about farm animals out the window anymore.
- Toddlers smile with their whole being. As cliched as it may sound, when Sophie smiles, it lights up her entire face. Toddlers are incapable of the polite smile, the fake smile, (though the development of the “fake cough” and “fake laugh” is quite fantastic) or the self-conscious smile. That kind of natural joy and uninhibited self-expression is something for adults to aspire to.
- The “I’m Gonna Get You!” Game. Or more accurately, the “I’m-gon-gitchoo!” game. No matter how many times I catch her on her way up the stairs and announce that I’m “gon-git” her, she thinks it is hilarious and worthy of squealing every single time.
- The heavy head on your shoulder. I adore those few moments in the day when Sophie rests her whole body against me and drops her head to my shoulder. I think I will remember the sensation of the weight of a child’s sleepy head against me for the rest of my life. It is one of my favorite parts of the day, and another one of those fleeting joys of toddlerhood.
- The communication gap begins to close. It is so surprising and gratifying when you realize that your child understands what you are saying. The other day I flippantly suggested that my toddler throw away the soggy bagel she was toting around before she climb on me, and she actually went to the trash can and tossed it in! Didn’t see that one coming! For all the things I find
despicablechallenging about parenting in the second year of childhood, the language explosion is definitely my favorite part. One of the most unexpected parts of the language acquisition with my second child has been her newfound ability to tell us “poop” before she actually goes; she has been pooping in the toilet with unexpected regularity. This is all very well and good, except for the fact that the overall process is a huge pain in the ass. It seems that I am always sitting at the dinner table when I hear her tiny voice inform me, “Poop. Poop!” Half the time it is a false alarm, as I think she enjoys the whole bathroom experience, particularly the flushing and waving bye-bye to her deposit.
Sophie is learning new words every day, and slowly replacing her toddler-talk with actual words. For example, I felt strangely sad when she stopped referring to books as “boop!” and started pronouncing them correctly last week. I will savor these sweet inaccuracies for as long as I can, and for posterity’s sake, here are a few of my favorites.
- No-nock! Knock knock, always hollered while actually knocking at a door.
- Bop Bite, always used when requesting a coveted bite of something one of us is eating
- Siss-siss Sissy or Izzy, hard to tell which, but same difference.
- Bawk-cock Yeah, this is my favorite. Peacock.
- AHHH! All done, always shouted in a demanding tone
- Am-uh Our beloved friend Amber, whose photo on the fridge we point to daily
- Wo-wo She wants me to sing “Row, row, row, your boat.” Like fifty times.
So tomorrow, when I am flipping out over all the shrieking, squawking, food-throwing, and mess-making, I will re-read this list and remind myself of all the aspects of toddlerhood that make the struggles worthwhile. And the day after that…and the day after that…
*Just a few more days until the Top 25 Funny Moms contest ends ands puts us out of our misery…if you could be so kind…