Now that I’m many months and a few tantrums into toddlerhood, I feel more affirmed than ever. The beautiful, chaotic stage of toddlerhood is exactly my kind of adventure. I am still struggling to process that an entire year has elapsed since I nervously confessed my loath for the newborn phase to the world. Over the last twelve months, relief has washed over me as other parents have admitted their similar feeling of dislike. Alongside that relief, I’m thoroughly enjoying the toddlerhood rainbow after that newborn storm.
Toddlers have personality coupled with unfettered enthusiasm. Toddlers live with reckless abandon, although sometimes there’s more emphasis on the reckless part. He explodes out of bed with a big bearhug and a loving greeting, with the energy I could only match after three venti iced coffees. It’s hard not to have a positive mindset when you have this tiny human who gets hyped for every.single.thing! Waffles for breakfast? A firetruck just drove by the house unexpectedly? Daniel Tiger? Waking up on a random Tuesday morning? All are justified causes for celebration.
Toddlers love the mundane and take an interest in topics most adults would think were totally uninteresting. My son pushes me to see the world from new and fascinating angles each day. Did you know an entire YouTube community is dedicated to filming and sharing footage of trash trucks in action? I do, and now so do you. My family and I owe most of our knowledge of the wide variety of refuse collection vehicles out there to toddlerhood and the channel called Thrash N’ Trash. (Extra kudos to the person behind this channel for setting all of the videos to heavy metal music.) In all seriousness, I genuinely appreciate my son for nudging me to consider how my tiny piece of life fits into the vast puzzle of the world and how my trash makes it from my trashcan to the landfill.
Toddlers are thirsty for knowledge and soak up the world around them. He frequently asks adults around him what they are doing. My son, like many toddlers, takes it a step further and emulates what he sees. He vacuums. He fills our chicken’s water container with the hose all by himself. He rushes to reinsert his baby brother’s pacifier as needed. He is notorious at daycare for pulling chairs out from underneath his classmates and stacking them up on the table, as he knows the post-snack time procedure. As he often says, “I just want to help, Mama!” Honestly, I’m going to selectively overlook the fact that sometimes this little sponge of mine soaks up the wrong things, like the expletive I muttered when someone cut me off in traffic the other day that he has since repeated or the time he casually brought me a large chef’s knife to open his popsicle.
Toddlerhood makes fierce negotiators. For my son, his mastery of these skills really shines at bedtime. No later than 15 minutes before bed, he will begin insisting he needs to brush his teeth again. Of course, no one has better dental hygiene than a toddler avoiding the inevitable bedtime. When this tactic fails, he moves on to the information gathering portion of his “Harrison stays up all night” sales pitch. He suddenly needs to quiz me, a grown adult with multiple college degrees, on all of his preschool level flashcards and ask me burning questions such as why his bookcase is in that particular corner of his room. Once he’s out of questions, he moves to his best strategy to try to close the deal….pulling at my heartstrings. Knowing our shared mutual love of dogs, he immediately begins requesting pictures of doggies. He then asks to see pictures of his baby brother, who he shows only minimal interest in during the day and who has been sleeping peacefully in the bedroom next door for the last hour. Recently, he has added asking to see pictures of whichever parent is not putting him to bed on that particular evening as his own final twist of the proverbial knife of guilt. At the moment, I may feel that tinge of frustration because I just want to get him to bed so I can have a few moments of peace to myself. Yet I am reminded that he is using this time to connect with me on a meaningful level and flex his muscles as a budding salesperson with stellar social skills.
So while these twos may feel, at times, quite terrible and that three-year-old in your life may seem more like a hellion threenager, enjoy these toddlerhood moments of exponential growth with these tiny, budding adults. My son is constantly in motion from the moment his eyes open in the morning until the moment he begrudgingly closes them at night. He goes 200mph and challenges me constantly, yet I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know we will all look back at these fleeting moments of toddlerhood and beam with pride at the independence, intelligence, compassion, and personality our littles have gained.