What I will miss about the toddler years

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Mostly due to the fact that I live with a toddler, it has taken me three weeks to complete this post. This morning, while half-awake in bed I thought about the title for this post and then the voice in my head snorted, laughed and said, Nothing.  There is nothing that I will miss about the toddler years. Shortly thereafter, my 23-month old came into my room in his usual manner – by throwing his entire body against  my door and falling into the room.

“Go…away…” I snarled.

Giggles. Then a prolonged struggle as he climbed onto the bed. He put his head close to my face and mouth-breathed into my ear for a few minutes. “Please…please just go away for 5 more minutes,” I started begging. More giggles, and then he slowly put a pillow over my face and held it there. Firmly.

Some days I can’t wait for his high school graduation. And there there are days that are sandwiched between the hours of monotonous re-readings of Green Eggs and Ham and his attempts at matricide when I remember that the toddler years are the best of times, and they are the worst of times.

Toddler generosity
My kid absolutely loves to share. Germs, mostly, but the other day he sweetly handed me a piece of half-chewed chicken from his plate and batted his long eyelashes with such charm that I almost couldn’t refuse (chicken is his favorite, so I appreciated his sacrifice).  Yesterday while I was washing dishes he eagerly tore into a bag of diapers, pulled a few out, and stuffed them in my purse – you know, in case I needed one later.  Such generosity! Later in the day he was kind enough to proffer a few young tulip shoots he ripped mercilessly from the ground.  Sharing!

The naked freedom sprint
You’ve just removed your toddler’s clothes and diaper in preparation for bath time and all he is wearing are his socks when suddenly, sensing a breeze and a call from the wild he takes off running.  Everything about the naked freedom sprint looks like pure joy, from the exuberant flailing of arms to the squeals of delight. I think every parent looks on their toddler during the naked freedom sprint with envy. I’m no nudist, but damn! I wish that I could feel such complete freedom and joy over something so simple!

Toddler empathy
No, that is not an oxymoron.  Many toddlers do have feelings for people other than themselves and will try to comfort you when you are sad. When my toddler came upon me crying one day he solemnly handed me the two things that bring him the most comfort: his blankie and Lewis, his stuffed elephant.  Then he sat quietly in my lap and waited for me to finish sobbing. He’s a gentle little soul, and he is drawn to people who need to be comforted.

Toddler favorite things
The thing about all of that constant discovery is that every few days toddlers discover something so new and amazing that it becomes their absolute favorite thing.  They can’t imagine anything on the planet that is more incredible than that pair of nail clippers they discovered behind the bathroom sink, or the bowl of cat food, or your purse stash of tampons. Yesterday my toddler’s favorite things were a window squeegee and a green spatula. These objects, along with his stuffed elephant and his blankie had to be in the same room with him, so he walked around the house with his arms full of this stuff all day. Today it was my (now broken) salad spinner, which he insisted on keeping in his room while he napped.

Cherub face
Even if your toddler was sent to you directly from Hell, he/she probably looks like an angel when sleeping. I caught my son trying to help me clean the kitchen by wiping down the countertops with a pair of potty-training underwear that he had been wearing only an hour before. A few days ago he discovered how to spit a mouthful of yogurt at the wall and watch it slowly dribble to the floor. He stopped calling Huzzybee “Daddy” and instead he refers to him as “Xbox”. Despite this insanely irritating behavior he still looks like an unblemished little child-angel when I put him to bed.  I love cherub face.

Toddler honesty
Ok, my toddler doesn’t really say much yet.  Although he does have some words (almost all allude to his favorite snacks) he is a little behind the curve in the speech department, however he can verbally signal to me that he knows right from wrong. For now (until he learns to lie) he announces his intention to do mischief by declaring to me “I no-no!” If I am not in the room with him he gives himself away by muttering “oh no-no-no-no!”, shaking his head before he tries to climb the bookshelf or disassemble the cupboard lock. I know that older toddler honesty  ( e.g. when he starts to tell household secrets) starts to become uncomfortable, but we’re not there yet. For now he is adorably sincere and sweet.

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