On Understanding A Toddler


On the heels potty training, our little boy has been fluctuating from great independence to intense clinginess.  Moving seamlessly from mostly some combination of sweet and tender and playful and energized to frustrated and rebellious within minutes.  On occasion, I'll get these knowing smiles and questions about how old he is with a sympathetic nod when I acknowledge his two and a half years.  

This weekend I had a prideful emotional moment of keen maternal intuition - while he climbed into my lap and giggled - he's still a baby.  Yes, he's growing in length, and his shoe size rivals a pre-schooler, and he can talk and negotiate with the best of them.  So we, as parents, have changed.  Somewhere in these last weeks, maybe months, we've gotten a little more strict and a little sharper when he's testing his limits.  When he was one year old and casually poured a cup of water on the floor, we would consider him to be learning about cause and effect and how he can impact his world.  Now he casually pours a glass of sparkling water out, and we've been quicker to reprimand (even if we still try to lean on respectful parenting language). 

I was flipping through a Restoration Hardware catalog mindlessly, looking at the masthead "Baby & Child."  The baby section was extensive with sweet bedding and stuffed toys, and then the models fast-forwarded into their sixes and sevens, writing and playing maturely at lovely tables and art stations.  

But there's a reason someone wiser than me came up with the term "toddler," for a little person who may be able to get around independently and even able to poop in a toilet by himself, draw hearts and circles or articulate his opinion.  They're still new here, still trying to understand how the world works or how they work within it.  And maybe I've been rushing him along a little bit in these recent weeks.  Either because he's presenting as so capable or subconsciously as the next baby comes along. And he's been resisting, rightfully so as a reminder that he's still my baby too.

So, for the last 72 hours, I've been observing him and speaking to him like I did when he was tiny - with leniency and awe and curiosity.  And in this window of an experiment, he's responded with gentleness and trust.  

Featured Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash