(Alternate title: Notes from 19 months, because I haven’t posted one of those in a really, really, really long time, and also that title is too long so we can just go with the original blog post title)
I used to think toddlers were living, breathing, walking, running, falling, crying, enigmas never to be truly understood. Recently, however, I’ve come up with a little bit of a different theory. It’s not so much that toddlers are so different from us older-folk, it’s that they are simply miniature versions of our baser selves. If we were to take our most basic desires of behavior and bundle it up into a smaller human it would be exactly a toddler.
Here’s what I mean.
They just walk away from conversations they have no interest in
My husband has said on multiple occasions that I get into more random conversations where people tell me their deepest life stories than anyone he has ever met. Going through the deli at the store? Sure, I’ll for some reason listen to your story about how you can no longer do yoga due to your achilles tendon acting up sometimes*. At the pet store buying dog food? Why not, please do tell me about how your aunt’s tuna casserole won the best tuna casserole competition in Muncie, Indiana, in 1988**.
As often as I get into these conversations I also cannot seem to get out of them. I don’t know where the breaking-off point is, so I inevitably just keep asking questions, assuming the end must be in sight. I always assume incorrectly.
Toddlers do not have this problem. One of my parents’ favorite stories about me as a toddler was that whenever they traveled (which happened a lot as a pilot and flight attendant) and we talked on the phone and I was done talking I would just say, “I’m done!” and then walk away. It didn’t matter what the person on the other end of the line was saying or even if they were in mid-sentence. If I was done, it was over. Move on, slick. Nothing to see here.
It’s a super power I wish I could harness again, but alas, it seems I am forever doomed to simply become entrenched in conversations about people’s cousin’s cat’s favorite snacks***.
They can bite into a large wedge of cheese and feel no remorse
Sure, that huge chunk of Jarlsberg is calling to you, but something is probably holding you back from taking that wedge and jamming it straight into your preferred facehole.
Call it, “societal pressure,” or, “that last time that happened I got so sick I vowed it wouldn’t happen a fourth time,” or, “this is what separates us from the animal kingdom: knives for our cheese wedges,” digging into cheese and treating it like the food crack it is has become taboo in our culture. (For shame!)
Toddlers know not of these societal pressures, which leads to scenarios (like the one pictured here) of them actually gnawing into an entire wedge of Jarlsberg with reckless abandon. This inevitably makes moms look over and say something to themselves along the lines of, “It’s dairy, right? So, like, it’s healthy?”
But look at this face! This is exactly what you want to do to that wedge of cheese and you know it.
When they don’t want to go somewhere they just start crying
Picture this: it’s Monday morning. You’re on the train/bus/in your car with the crush of humanity, headed straight away from the weekend and toward five days of work in a sad, grey little cubicle (or, potentially worse, a brightly-colored, blinding conglomeration of what corporate America has most recently decided “brightens employee spirits for synergy”).
On the outside you’re probably sort-of pulling it together. Your face probably resembles something along the lines of this:
While your inside is actually consumed by the desire to do this:
Toddlers simply don’t possess that first “I’m screaming on the inside but I’ll settle for stinky-cheese face on the outside” face. In fairness, they have no motivation to develop said “cool” exterior. If they don’t want to go somewhere, the squeakiest wheel also happens to be the loudest one. There is much debate in the parenting world on how to handle said squeaky-wheel-turned-screaming-wheel debacles, but the point is this: your inner self wishes it could actually scream from the rooftops how it feels about going somewhere undesirable just like a toddler actually gets to.
Their dessert consumption tactics are ideal
Have you ever watched a toddler eat dessert? It’s magnificent. If you want to see just how creative a toddler mind can become, hand them something sweet and observe the results.
I have many examples of this, but most recently Wee Connor and I went to a restaurant in Lincoln Park called Jam ‘n Honey. This restaurant is famous for putting huge jars of Nutella and honey on the table for your spreading delights. Obviously I allowed Connor a Nutella toast because I’m a
terrible parent who subscribes to the “everything in moderation” idea, and also because Nutella is potentially proof there is a higher power out there who loves us dearly.
I didn’t even realize there was a right way and a wrong way to eat Nutella toast, but grownups clearly have always been on the “wrong” side of the spectrum since coming into our sad little grownup existences. Wee Connor schooled us all by taking said toast straight to his face, licking off the Nutella from the toast, putting it down, looking at me, and then saying and signing (this is the only sign he knows, and I don’t know where he learned it, by the way) “more!” emphatically. See what I mean? Realistically who cares about the toast? The toast is obviously a vehicle to deliver as much Nutella as can humanly fit inside a human stomach, so why would you destroy said vehicle? No more Nutella vehicle, no more Nutella. It’s so simple it’s brilliant, really.
If we all listened to our inner dessert voice we, too, could channel these tactics. Luckily toddlers wear those inner dessert voices on the outside, which is convenient because that’s where half their desserts end up as well: straight on the outside of everything.
**Also a true story, though details on that one might be blurred a bit
***You guessed it****.
****It went, in order of preference: Goldfish crackers, Friskies treats, shredded chicken, chopped tomatoes. And no, I don’t actually know how the ranking system was established.
P.S. I recently decided to become all official-like and start a Facebook page for my blog. Come on over and like it! I’ll be posting updates and maybe even funny or interesting things along the way.