In Praise of Toddlers

Toddlerhood - the mere mention of it sends chills of fear down the spines of most new parents.  We've all heard of the terrible twos.  We've seen the brats throwing tantrums at Target.  I myself have marvelled at how quickly my son has learned to say "NO!" and "MIIIINE!" and have spent many afternoons on the kitchen floor asking a semi-verbal yet hysterical 22 month old "What do you want?  Your car?  A cookie?  Milk?  Shoes?  What?  What? Whaaaaaaaaat!"

Yes, this stage is hard, but so is the newborn stage and I hear that teenagers are no walk in the park.

But what you rarely hear is that toddlers can be a delight.  It's fun to finally get to meet that little person you've been taking with you everywhere for the past year and a half.  Now that I'm expecting another newborn, I kind of wish we could fast-forward through the first year so that #2 can be a toddler and can get to play with his brother.

Yeah.  You heard that right.  I just wished for two toddlers - CRA-ZY.

I love the fact that I know that my son is a full-fledged chocoholic.  Give him a piece of chocolate and the delight in his eyes will melt you heart faster than the chocolate buttons he savors and seems to nibble on for hours, trying to make the sweetness last. 

I love seeing him play with other toddlers - the giggles when things are going well, the anger when he gets mad at some toddler transgression (perhaps a child has taken his spot in front of the play stove?).  I love the developing friendships, and the way he interacts differently with individual children. 

I love the fact that he may be going through his first crush.

I love that he won't let us feed him.  That he won't use "baby" spoons, and insists on using the same utensils as Mama and Papa.

I love smushy loud sticky toddler kisses.  I love stealth tickle attacks.

I love that when he is ready for bed, he screams "BYE!  BYE Mama!  BYE Papa!  BYE-BYE!"  We try for a sweet goodnight whispering, "Good night...we love you!" and singing lullabyes but our toddler simply waves us off with a "BYE!  BYYYYYE!"

I ask him if he wants to join a group of kids who are playing, and his big eyes shine as he enthusiastically nods yes.  I'm filled with pride as he approaches the group all alone and sweetly says "hiiiii!".   My big boy!  It breaks my heart when I see the look on his innocent face when the kids - in true toddler fashion - turn their backs on him, and he comes running, lips trembling, back to me.  How I hate those kids at that moment!  How I wish I could make everything better!  How suprised I am at my ability to not only console him, but to encourage him to go to other children - and he does, despite the recent snub.  I never knew I would be able to let go and let him be happy and play.

Because they want to be independent, but they still need you.  As parents, we may be working ourselves out of a job - but oh, what a ride!