We don't know exactly
when the newest royal baby will be making their grand entrance, but all over the world people are eagerly awaiting the good news from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan. I'm not a big royal family-watcher, personally, but I get it (the glitz! the glamour! the gowns!), and I especially get it when a new baby is involved. Babies are fun under normal circumstances and this is a royal one. But, if you think about it, all toddlers think they're tiny kings anyway so, in a sense, all parents sort of have their own royal baby.
Toddlers, like royals, are endlessly fascinating. They can be
mercurial, dictatorial, conquest-driven, and, shall we say, "eccentric." They can also be kind, well-meaning, clueless, vulnerable, and focused primarily on having a good time. And, like a king, a toddler's power can feel absolute, but the truth is the subjects (read: the parents) actually have more agency than they sometimes realize. But let's be honest here: both toddlers and kings are pretty formidable. The confidence in their right to rule alone can carry them a long way, to say nothing of the resources available to them.
For kings, those resources include money, armies, and strong alliances. For toddlers it's the fact that they can
scream. They're ridiculously cute faces don't hurt, either. I mean, take one look at those spuds and it's almost impossible not to give in and do their bidding.
But what else do kings and kiddos have in common? Lots, including the following:
They Have Certain Expectations
We love them dearly, but toddlers are genetically engineered to be self-centered and demanding. They believe, like the kings of yore, that they have been put in charge of the world (or at least their part of it) by a higher power, and, as such, that world should cater to their every whim.
In the case of toddlers, it's not their fault: their brains are built that way and will only slowly become more reasonable with age. (Monarchs? Well, depending on the historical era we're talking about and how much power they're allotted, they
don't have to grow out of that unreasonable and demanding stage.)
Rituals Are Important To Them
Monarchy is chock full of symbolism. Particular regalia, ceremonies, gestures, traditions — everything is designed to convey power, prestige, and the fact that when you deal with a king, you're dealing with a dynasty.
Toddlers are kind of like that, too, only instead of, say, coronation ceremonies in Westminster Abbey, they
need you to cut their sandwich into dinosaur shapes. And after they eat those dino-shaped sandwiches they need to watch 20 minutes of Paw Patrol. And then, if it's a Wednesday, they need to go to the park because this is just the way things are done, MOTHER.
They Are Praised For Everything
With toddlers, it's because we want them to grow up happy and confident and we know positive reinforcement is effective in getting a child to repeat good behavior.
With kings, it's because they have dungeons.
Regular Rules Don't Apply To Them
I'm not saying that toddlers don't or shouldn't have any rules. They should and they do. But, those
aren't that apply to grown-up folks (or even slightly more grown up folks). It's a lot like being the king, to be honest. On the one hand, the regular rules don't apply because they're the same rules the King. On the other hand, they have a whole bunch of very weird etiquette rules that only apply to them. So toddlers are sort of graded on a curve: they get allowances and leeway we don't, but then they also have to go to bed at 7:30 p.m., regardless.
They Are Carried Around Everywhere
A king gets a litter or sedan, or at least the really cool opulent kings do. (Frankly, I feel like William and Harry are
wasting their royal status walking around like mortal chumps.) Toddlers still get carted around in a stroller, or even some sort of carrier, and some of them are fancy and expensive enough that I consider them gilded sedans.
Granted, the tone is very different.
Royal Food Taster: *takes a taste of the king's food; chews solemnly; bows head* It is not poisoned, your majesty.
King: Delightful! *scarfs down turkey leg and goblet of wine*
Child: *whines and points to dinner*
Parent: It's chicken nuggets! You love chicken nuggets!
Child: *whining intensifies* They're bad.
Parent: *takes a bite just to make sure they didn't serve their child rancid meat* It is not poisoned,
They Set The Tone Of Fashion
If the king wore red silk,
everyone at court would wear red silk because, clearly, that was the height of fashion and woe to he not at the very pinnacle of style and sophistication. Even today, we see royals influencing style.
Likewise, if your child is into, say,
Sesame Street, well then you'd better believe that everyone in your "court" is going to be talking about Elmo, Bert, and Ernie, all day every damn day for as long as they see fit (in the case of my little rulers, this was years).
Court gossip and intrigue is notorious, regardless of the palace. When you live with a toddler, even a chill one, the drama is similarly powerful. Who is in your tiny tyrant's favor? What is their mood today? Whom are they going to threaten? Who is going to
wind up crying? It's all just a lot.
Everything Requires An Audience
Toddlers and potentates both need a tremendous amount of attention. Toddlers need it because, bless them, they can't do much on their own, including imagining a world of which they are not the center. Rulers need it because that's how they hold on to power...
... and also because many of them cannot imagine a world of which they are not the center.
Other People Have To Deal With Their Sh*t
With toddlers this is literal. With kings it's metaphorical. Well, mostly: in the days of chamber pots
it was literal.
Ultimately, The Real Power Rests With The Lucky Few Who Can Manipulate Them
There's always a power behind the throne, and in the case of your toddler that's you, mama. Yes, you need to tolerate a lot and there's a great deal of playing the game, but you
know how to play it and, at the end of the day, we know who really wears the crown.