Babies are a tease, man. They're all mushy and delightful, and all they do is sleep and poop. Newborns are essentially inert little lumps of adorable, and infants generally stay where you put them. Once a kid becomes bipedal, however, it's a whole different ballgame. Not quite a baby, but not quite a child, toddlers are a conundrum wrapped in a riddle. "Mommy! I want you!" (two second later) "Go away!" There's no instruction manual for toddlers, and all those dumpster fire toddler moments may have you questioning your life choices.
I adore my daughter, but at almost 2, she's a little minx. She was the world's easiest baby in that she was a good eater and a good sleeper. My friends called her a "trick baby," a piece of cake cherub that convinces other couples to try to conceive. Imagine my surprise when "no sweat" baby became a walking, talking little demon. Overnight, my little love became impossibly stubborn, prone to frequent fits, and increasingly desirous of independence while lacking the requisite motor skills. It's a perfect storm, and one that's left the captain of this ship wondering what the hell she got herself into.
Toddlerhood is certainly full of joys as well, don't get me wrong. Toddlers are as charming as they are infuriating. However, there's no denying this stage is anything but child's play.
The Public Tantrum
Nothing like standing at the checkout with a screaming child at your feet in full-blown tantrum mode because you refused to buy some sugar-coated whatever the hell, right? Those people staring at you (because, obviously you're a terrible mom)? Yeah, you used to be them. But now you're here, willing the credit card reader to work faster and wondering how the hell you got here.
The Category 4 Toy Hurricane
I'm convinced that a toddler's every waking thought revolves around, "What can I destroy today?" Have you ever walked into your child's room and wondered how such a small human could make such an enormous mess? It's like they're taking the most disorganized inventory of all time. I know that cleaning up the toys for the third time in eight hours sure makes me glad I got that master's degree.
The Sleep Regression
That sweet little baby who you trained to sleep through the night is long gone. They now wake in the middle of the night, inconsolable after a nightmare or wandering the halls once they've discovered how to escape from crib prison. You may very well find yourself sleeping with a Minnie Mouse blankie on the floor of your toddler's room, using Floppy Bunny as a pillow. Not that I'd know what that's like.
The Projectile Vomit
As any toddler mom can tell you, this is a real thing and it will definitely have you considering exorcism. A few months ago, I decided it would be a really good idea to babysit an eight month old in a half body cast. My toddler got super jealous that I wasn't holding her and cried so hard she threw up. I swear to all that is holy that the force of her puke propelled her backwards. Covered in vomit myself and comforting two weeping babies was nothing less than an out-of-body experience.
The No Pants Wake Up
Waking up naked used to mean something way different during my single days. Toddlers have a great deal more manual dexterity than infants, which means they can remove clothing. And diapers. It's pretty surprising to walk into a nursery to a naked bumbum. If you're anything like me, you take a picture for posterity and thank your lucky stars she hadn't yet had her morning constitutional.
The In Flight Freakout
Once my kid became mobile, she went from a dream flyer to a nightmare. She will arch her back, throw her head back, scream, and refuse to be comforted. I'm sure everyone is thinking, "Jesus, lady. Just give the kid some damn Elmo." Alas, YouTube doesn't work on flights, and so I'm left sobbing silently to myself and wishing I had a glass of wine.
The Bathtub BM
Brace yourself because this is going to happen. Just hope it's not when you're co-bathing. Over Christmas, I was giving my daughter a bath and precisely the moment when my young nieces came in to take a peek, she took a big old dump. The girls ran out squealing, intent on announcing my child's "performance," and I was left fishing poop out of the tub with a plastic bag for a glove and thinking to myself, "Oh God. This is my life now."
The Messy Meal
Nothing makes you ask "Is this real life?" like combing potato out of your kid's hair, picking grains of rice out of the waistband of their diaper, or wiping yogurt off the dining room wall. Watching my daughter eat independently, it's amazing to me that any food actually makes it into her mouth.
I honestly can't think of another situation in which you have to tell someone you love that, no, you don't want to eat their boogers.
The Classic "Don't Eat That!"
The toddler motto, to quote the Rugrats, seems to be, "Eat it first. Ask questions later." I'm lucky in that my kid doesn't have a major oral fixation, but I've still had to pull the main character of a pop up book out of her sweet little mouth. My friends' kids have eaten everything from quarters to bunny poop. I'm afraid it would take me at least three days to love my child again if she ever ate sh*t.
Toddlers can be infuriating, vile little creatures. It's a good thing they're cute.