Sometime in the last few months, I discovered something utterly mind-blowing: my two-year-old son is a walking, talking little person with opinions and thoughts entirely his own. That knowledge is simultaneously exciting and terrifying.
Since he began stringing words together in sentences, he’s been saying some of the most ridiculous things that leave me doubled over in laughter or completely speechless, mouth agape, struggling to find a response.
Also ridiculous? The ways I’ve noticed that, as his personality emerges more every day, typical societal norms cease to exist.
Here’s how the world works, according to a toddler:
Anyone with a young child in the house is acutely aware of the fact that privacy and toddlers don’t exactly mix. Kids want to be around their parents, no matter what they’re doing. Trying to help toddlers understand that a closed bathroom door is not an invitation to burst in yelling, “Hi, Mommy!” is pointless. We had dinner guests the other night, and my son took off after one woman who’d just entered the bathroom. I yelled for him to stop. Later, when I explained what happened to my friend, who has two young sons herself, she laughed. “Don’t worry. I locked it,” she said, winking. #veteranmommy #thatwasclose
Commitment is unnecessary.
I’ve been asking my son what he wanted to dress up as for Halloween since August. August. Every time I got a different response: School bus! Tractor! Superman! Spiderman! My favorite? Jesus. I’m happy he’s finally settled on Mickey Mouse, but I fully expect a few tantrums between now and October 31 when he decides that he wants to dress as something entirely different. Perfect. Halloween Express, here I come!
Easy Mac is fine dining.
Before I became a mom, I was a fantastic cook. I enjoyed trying new recipes, and I was completely okay with spending hours preparing a meal that took us minutes to consume. Now that I have a toddler with an unrefined palette, my cooking revolves around the easiest foods to make that my son will actually eat. Did he want to try a bite of the honey-glazed salmon? Of course not. Chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese are all the culinary cuisine he wants. Great. At least they’re simple to make!
Mealtime means negotiations.
Even when I do make the food he will eat, my son doesn’t always understand that I expect him to eat what is on his plate. Last night he requested green beans, one of three vegetables he will actually consume. Wonderful! Except he proceeded to eat two helpings of spaghetti, all of his grapes, and none of his beans. Cue negotiations. If you eat two green beans, you can have more grapes, I pleaded. Nope, he decided he was done eating altogether. Ugh. My persuasive skills are apparently lacking. Or, he’s a 3-foot-tall tyrant. I haven’t decided yet.
Candy is acceptable breakfast fare.
Speaking of food, toddlers don’t exactly understand the “rules” about what is considered breakfast food versus snacks or dinner. I made the mistake of putting candy corn in a Halloween dish, which means that every other day when I ask my son what he wants for breakfast, he responds, “Candy corn!” And when I tell him that candy is not a breakfast food, he dissolves into a puddle of tears. “Tough cookies,” I say. Crap. Now he wants cookies for breakfast.
Facts are fluid.
While riding in the car with me the other day, my son noticed a semi-truck on the road. It was yellow. When I asked him if he liked the yellow truck, he responded, “No mommy, that truck blue.” No, dear child, you are wrong. Does he care? Of course not. Just like he didn’t care when he said, “No, the sun is still sleeping” when I pointed out the sunrise this morning. Sure thing, kid. And I’m the First Lady.
The world is a playground.
Adults are jaded, but children? The world is just one big educational opportunity to discover something new. And when they make that discovery, their eyes light up and giggles erupt from deep in their round, little bellies…their joy is tangible and infectious.
And no matter how many other ways toddlers completely eschew societal norms we consider standards by which to live, this is one trait I hope my son hangs on to long after he should. Because losing that sense of wonder means losing a lot more, and I hope he always seeks ways to learn from the world around him.
Except in the bathroom. That place is not a classroom.