Notes from 16 months: a recipe for a toddler

Toddlers are odd creatures. As best as I can explain it to childless friends (who, by the way, thank you for still being my friend. I don’t know how you do it.) is as a cocktail recipe, which said childless friends probably appreciate since they a) can enjoy cocktails regularly, even without yogurt in theirs or a family member’s hair, and b) it’s a better representation than anything else I can think of.

To make a toddler:

  • Combine one part baby with two parts “that drunk friend you, for some reason, now have to take care of”
  • To mix, run around dwelling endlessly over and over again, mostly in circles
  • Add wine, to taste 

In between the mixing and wine-adding I’ve jotted down some notes from the past month or so.

Here be dragons, if by “dragons” you mean “one nap a day”

Asleep in the home furnishings area of Target. I was lounging on a display loveseat when I took this picture. One nap to rule them all.

Asleep in the home furnishings area of Target. I was lounging on a display loveseat when I took this picture. One nap to rule them all.

As Connor has gotten older he has switched to one nap a day, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing in that the nap is much more predictable, but a curse in that it feels like we’re (yes, “we”, because I need that alone time during his nap as much as he needs the nap) napping without a safety net. If we go out to do an activity or errand too late he’ll fall asleep on the way back, which means an incomplete nap and bedlam the rest of the day. If we don’t go out at all he goes stir crazy (which, to be fair, I do too), and it’s bedlam at nap time. The problem now is there isn’t another nap I can hope can make up for a crappy nap anymore. It’s pretty much a one-shot deal.

Overall, though, I do prefer the one-nap-a-day thing, presuming it all goes well. Connor naps for about 2 hours in the middle of the day, which means I can clean around the house stream Netflix and intend to clean around the house for a perfect amount of time to turn my brain off. The biggest downside to this one nap thing, of course, is that I’m much more of a slave to the schedule. I hear myself sounding insane when people ask to do brunch on the weekends and I tell them only if it’s super early (aka, “breakfast”, perish the thought) or much later in the afternoon (aka, “linner”, or as most of my friends call it, “uhhh…okay…well…we’ll think about it and get back to you…”). When Connor was younger he seemed much more portable because there was always another nap to fall back on, and neither nap lasted very long anyway.

There seem to be two kinds of kids: kids whose naps are super flexible and who don’t fall apart if they don’t have one, and those like Connor. So again, I’m sorry friends-without-children. I know you say “I’ll never be like Taylor and Chris and be a slave to my child’s naps” because I used to say that, too. But alas in this house naps are king and I am but a royal napping jester.

No, I don’t know where or how he got that [bump/scrape/mysterious large mark on his forehead…wait…is that Sharpie? When did he have a Sharpie? Is there a Sharpie somewhere I don’t know about? Can my son manifest Sharpies now?]

Less than 10 seconds prior to that he was sitting peacefully playing with that activity box thing.

Fewer than 10 seconds prior to this he was sitting peacefully playing with that activity box thing.

Remember that “drunk friend” part of the recipe I shared before? More than likely that drunk friend woke up with about eight bruises or bumps they have no recollection of receiving. This is nothing compared to a day in the life of a toddler.

Just like your drunk friend, a toddler will get so excited to see you, despite the fact they just saw you three minutes ago, they’ll start running as fast as they can and then trip over the flat unobstructed floor.

Just like your drunk friend, a toddler will randomly change direction on less than a moment’s notice and walk straight into a door frame.

And just like your drunk friend you’ll tell them they can’t have pizza and they’ll collapse into a heap, sobbing on the floor, and bonk their head on the way down.

So no, I don’t know where my son got that huge mark on his head. I usually respond with “being a toddler,” but people seem to think I’m trying to make a joke. I’m not.

Unfortunately the one thing you (hopefully) don’t have to do with your drunk friend is change their diapers, for a multitude of reasons you understand. You’re still on the hook for that with your toddler, and that’s where the “one part baby” piece of the “1 part baby to 2 parts drunk friend” piece of the recipe comes in. Them’s the breaks, parents. Them’s the breaks. 

Toddlers live to make fools of us all

diabolical laughterLet me explain. First, a quick piece of back information: for now, Connor is pretty much a champion eater. He adores vegetables, gobbles pho, and eats pretty much what we put in front of him. While we may still be steering straight into a “picky” or “no” phase with food, right now it is what it is and it’s pretty enjoyable.

I was out to eat with some of the moms after a playdate and ordered Connor a breakfast burrito, which had eggs, sundried tomatoes, corn salsa, pepperjack cheese…and probably some other fillings as well. I scraped out the inside of the wrap it was in and Connor dutifully ate the filling, bite after bite. Until. Until. Until. One of the other moms whose daughter is 2 turned to make conversation and asked if Connor was a good eater*. As soon as she asked the question and I started to answer something along the lines of, “Actually it’s been pretty easy so far with him…” Connor immediately looked up, opened his mouth, and stuck out his tongue so that all the food in there would fall out. And then he did it again.

Toddlers do this all the time. No matter what you say they do “all the time” to another parent/doctor/grandparent/anyone, they will turn around and do not that thing. They love it. They live to make fools of us all. It’s a good thing I’ve got that jester hat in stock.

Clothing sizes on tags make less and less sense as children get larger and larger

PSA: Babies are not fireproof.

PSA: Neither babies nor their clothes are flame resistant. I know there’s been some confusion.

Tags for baby clothes are hilarious to me. They always will be. More likely than not it’s because I spend such an inordinate amount of time doing laundry something had to become funny else I would lose my mind. Some of my favorite tags found only on baby clothes are:

    Because I was going to throw my child near open flames, but, phew, that tag really saved the day there! Who knew babies, nor their clothes, were not fireproof? 
    Not hilarious in its own right, of course, until you realize this tag is found on a blanket. Not a sleep sack or something fancy you often find near babies, but a square, flat, blanket. I am somehow supposed to figure out how to wash the closest thing to a 2-dimensional object we have in a 3-dimensional world inside out.
  • “SIZE: 18 MONTHS [or whatever size the tag says it is that is supposed to correlate to your child’s age, for some reason”]

It is this last clothing tag I would like to go into a little more.

When your baby is first born, all the teeniest tiniest little clothes seem to fit them perfectly. All the clothing makers perhaps take pity on new parents who get no sleep with the wee-est of wee ones crying and feeding through all hours of the night and make their clothes to be more or less the same size.

It is after this glorious period all hell breaks loose. For reasons I cannot possibly comprehend, most clothing in the USA is made with tags labeled with the child’s age, until 2 years old. 0-3 months, 3-6 months, etc. Once they hit 12 months, the differentiation is done by 6 months instead of 3, so it’s 12-18 months, and 18-24 months.

The thing is, though, it’s all bollocks**. If you hold up five different brands of clothing labeled “12-18 months” (or any other size, 6-9 months, 9-12, whatever size you see) you will see five extremely different clothing sizes, ranging from fitting a newborn to a length almost fitting an adult. Who are these children they are supposed to be fitting? I can assure you, it’s not my child.

My in-laws spend half their time in London, and as such we have received some beautiful childrens clothing from Europe. One day doing laundry (read as: one random day in the past 16 months) I was looking at the tags and realized something: Europeans put lengths on their sizing tags for children. Sure, it’s in metric lengths, but seriously, there is actual, factual, hard data on what they consider their 12-18 month clothes would fit and you can adjust accordingly. Why we don’t do this in America is beyond me, but since Trump is close to becoming a viable presidential candidate most things are beyond me at this point.

Hanna Andersson has an American shop, and they maintain their lengths-based sizing. Boden has dumb age-based sizing, but at least an easily-accessible size chart.

Really, what I’m saying is this: good luck with buying clothes for babies. Asking moms what size their kids are wearing these days probably will probably garner a pause, a sigh, and a rundown of every brand they’re familiar with and how they run (“Oh, well, Boden runs long and lean, so definitely get his age in that, but Gap…well…Gap is iffy, but generally he’s right at the edge of that, so size up in Gap, same with Old Navy, and if it’s pajamas always size up because they tend to shrink…”. You didn’t ask, but it’s what you’ll get. Again, I don’t know why my childless friends have remained friends with me, but thank you all.

It just keeps getting better

connor on playgroundI say this a lot here, but it’s only because it’s true. I hear myself talking in platitudes but still can’t help it.

I’ve wanted him to stop growing and stay the same age now since he was born. I keep thinking it just won’t – can’t – get better. This is the age that makes all the headaches and bad days and battles with naps worth it, I keep telling myself. And then a little more time goes and I think, no, no. I was wrong before. This is the age. My husband has a remarkable ability to see this as a trend. “Don’t you want him to stop growing?” I incessantly ask him, and he’ll respond with, “No! Can’t you imagine how cute he’ll be when he can talk?! Imagine being able to toddle down the street to the park with him! Throwing a baseball? Walking down to Wrigley and catching a game?” Okay, fine, you’re right, husband of mine, if it has kept getting better with a 100% dependability factor, it stands to reason it might just keep getting better after all.

It’s just so impossibly hard to believe it can, is all.


*This is a question moms ask other moms all the time. I can’t tell if it’s a battle in the “mommy wars” or if it’s just plain curiosity, but I tend to lean toward the “innate curiosity” side more than the “mommy wars” side for reasons I can’t put my finger on.

**I will not stop trying to make fetch happen, Gretchen.

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