The Dunk is now 25 months old, and by all accounts, a typically developing toddler. An affectionate and rough and tumble little guy, he is a unique blend of the influence of older siblings (Lego! Purses! Fire Trucks! Baby Dolls!) and his own personality.
With his emerging language skills we’re seeing his own personality shine through.
When I was talking to the older kids about their respective roles in life (‘You’re a Grade One, you’re the oldest,’ and ‘You’re a Big School Girl now,’) The Dunk looked on expectantly. I turned to him, and proclaimed, ‘You’re a Toddler.’
‘I, Toddler,’ he proudly announced.
And he is, though and through.
Toddlerhood is a magical time where Baby and Big Kid blend together to create something amazing, frustrating, adorable, and perplexing – all at the same time.
Honest to a fault, every mood, desire, and state (I hungry – NOW!) is completely unfiltered. And every idea must be acted on – instantly. There is only Now.
For the pint-sized dictators in our lives, is no sense of time, except Toddler Time. As paradoxical as the toddlers themselves, Toddler Time can mean staring at the cracks on the sidewalk for half an hour or running into traffic at lightning speed. Waiting for juice to be poured can take an eternity while a favorite movie or show seemingly lasts only seconds (MORE MOVIE!!)
Add these traits together and any attempt to do housework or run errands takes on the tactical challenges of invading a foreign country.
Outing to Grandmas. Diapers? Check. Sippy cups? Check. Snacks? Enough toys? Special DVD? Check, check, and check!
We’re good to go.
ARGH! We forgot wipes and a complete change of clothing. And the spare rubber boots! How could we leave the house for ten minutes without the spare rubber boots????
That day The Dunk rode home wearing Granny’s old sweatshirt and mittens on his feet.
One of the key traits of Toddlers is that they are busy little people. The entire world is theirs to explore – rocks to turn over, puddles to jump in, people to talk to, and strange food items to taste – all before naptime.
So any infringement upon their rights to explore or quest for independence (I DO IT!) leads to catastrophic meltdowns. Usually by both parties.
I have taken to grocery shopping at a local Big Box store before the sun (and Toddler) rise. Bleary-eyed and giddy with freedom, I trudge through long aisles comparing prices and brands in blissful silence while Hubby is home with the kids.
Otherwise a shopping trip is reminiscent of the movie The Exorcist. Toddler forcibly restrained, screaming, spitting and spewing while the poor parent attempts to grab bread, eggs and milk and run out the door. Anything within Toddler reach is subject to their wrath. Bread squashed, clothing removed (and thrown!), eggs crushed and milk cartons chewed open – shopping with a toddler is not for the faint of heart.
Once in the parking lot the parent realises that they forgot the diapers they came in for and have to make a decision to either go back into the store *shudder* or abort the mission and try again another day. Really, with potty training just on the horizon, diapers are overrated anyway.
Lest you think I’m exaggerating, during a recent shopping trip with The Dunk we left the store with three of his shoes. Now, The Dunk only has two feet, and he was wearing a pair of shoes when he went into the store. My goal that particular trip was to buy him a new pair. That means mathematically speaking, we should have left the store with four shoes, total.
I’ll spare you the details, but the very kind Big Box store staff held onto the worn toddler shoe (mysteriously found in the dairy aisle) for nearly two weeks before I could inquire about it at Customer Service. A smiling cashier retrieved the shoe from an enormous box labelled ‘Found’ which I can only suspect contains the remnants of other Toddler shoppers.
Being part Baby and Big Kid is challenging for the Toddlers themselves. I do not think the quest for independence is as strong in anyone’s lifetime, outside of the teen years. When asked if he needs a diaper change, The Dunk will declare, “No, I fine.” And usually he is. He recently had a self-declared pyjama day at our local Ontario Early Years Centre, arriving at Circle Time in fuzzy pyjamas. (I had his regular clothes packed in the diaper bag in hopes of changing him into something more socially appropriate.) Nope. I was told to, “Leave my ‘jammies.”
Anyone experienced in the Toddler Years will tell you to offer choices, pick your battles, redirect, and try again later. 36 hours into wearing the same pyjamas I managed to remove them from The Dunk and change him into fresh clothes. And honestly, for me it wasn’t a big deal, I figure it saved on doing laundry.
Cute little dictators, NO! I DO IT! is interspersed with cuddles and kisses, naptimes and sippy cups. Routines become a big deal in for little people in an unpredictable world, where they themselves are equally unpredictable.
Recently Hubby was struggling to get The Dunk to bed. Requested stories were read, Toddler cuddled, and Hubby was attempting to force a screaming toddler into his crib.
I called out – did you sing the Baby Robin song?
On cue The Dunk started singing “Rock me gently, Rock me slow, Rock me where the Robins go.”
I turned to Hubby, “See, he knows all this stuff. He does so much. He’s really amazing.”
From his crib, The Dunk proclaimed, “I, amazing.”
Thanks to the Ontario Early Years Centres for keeping us sane during the Toddler Years. FYI – here’s a songbook from the Ontario Early Years Centre that has the Baby Robin song (sung to the tune of Love Me Tender)
How do you survive the Toddler Years?