“When you were born, you had long fingers, and that’s when we knew you’d be a pianist,” my mother THE LIAR will tell me. I was rubbish at playing piano, unless you enjoyed hearing the Twin Peaks theme tremoring across the lounge room under the energy of a moody 8-year-old just tall enough to reach the dampener pedal. Still, there is *something* in baby temperament. We are born, and then we start having ideas. Thirty years later, you still have a weird habit of grabbing your toes, sleeping in pajamas that velcro shut, and so on. It’s important to get to know your kid from the start — how will you know how to optimize your toddler if you don’t know their play style? Hence this handy quiz.
I am no psychologist, though I did read the horoscopes in Cosmo dutifully enough from 1994 to 1999 that I feel like I know all the kinds of person at this point. Well enough that I can pin them down from early infancy, if you give enough of a behavior sample (I also studied Piaget from February to March 2001, so, I have got this). Wonder if your toddler is bound for Juilliard or MIT? Don’t buy that toddler-sized set of Wusthof classic knives or a Yamaha baby-grand just yet. First, let's nail down the ~essence~ of their play-based soul.
I guess you're a ready type of person.
1. Choose your toddler’s weird thing (no judgment, this is for science):
a) Walking around touching their nipples.
b) Licking windows.
c) Singing nursery songs in a death-metal voice.
d) Watching you go to the bathroom.
2. When your toddler was a baby, their ~temperament~ was best described as:
a) Big smiles energy.
b) Big teething energy.
c) Big snuggles energy.
d) Big colic energy.
3. Your toddler's signature item is:
a) Their cape.
b) NO PANTS, a hat.
c) Their scooter, which is for all intents and purposes an extra limb.
d) Sunglasses — all day, every day.
4. Select your toddler’s favorite bath game:
a) Demanding you wash and detangle Barbie's hair while they steep.
b) Dissolving a $25 bath fizzie you received for your bridal shower and were keeping for a special occasion.
c) Screaming “penis” or “vulva” at top of lungs while (correctly!) identifying the corresponding body part.
d) Just screaming.
5. When there aren’t any toys around, you let your toddler:
a) “Take out your bones” then put them back in. Totally normal.
b) Pat your Naked Urban Decay nude palette all over their face.
c) Julienne some carrots with their green Martha Stewart Collection paring knife.
d) Move all the apps around your iPhone so you can’t find anything ever again.
Which Oscar's gown would your toddler put themselves in?
a) Bjork in the swan dress.
b) Lupita Nyong'o in that exquisite number from 2015 with all the pearls.
c) Michelle Williams in the floaty yellow dress I still give all tens.
d) Faith Hill in a grab-bag of colors.
6. What is the most profound thing your toddler has ever said?
a) "I made you up." (said with lightness, accusingly)
b) "My tongue tastes funny."
c) "Why are your nipples so big?"
d) "I want to marry you, Mommy."
TALLY YOUR ANSWERS THUS FAR, PARENT.
If you got mostly As: Your child loves imaginative play
It's hard to know if your house is actually haunted or your imaginative toddler is just winding you up when they look at you, wide-eyed, and say, "I've been talking to Timmy. Timmy used to live here." (Best to salt and do a cleanse just in case).
If you're got tot with a wild inner life, you might be a little sick of being relegated to playing Anna — forever the sidekick to their Elsa — but with each act of dramatic tyranny, your toddler is honing their role-playing and decision-making skills, and practicing behaviors they learned from you, probably, Anna.
If you got mostly Bs: Your child loves sensory play
Early signs your child is a fiend for tactile play include fossicking around inside your top with their chubby little baby hand, and plugging their finger perfectly into your earhole, like they're trying to find the right key. Gifted when it comes to sensory perception, they can look forward as adults to spending $80 on a pillow, only to find it's "no good" and subsequently demand to try a different $80 pillow.
For a good time, tip a box of Rice Krispies into a mixing bowl and let them go downtown to Sensory Town (which is actually an amazing way for them to hone their senses, learn how to pour without spilling stuff everywhere, and understand a bit about amounts and sizes, if you want to get all scientific about it, which I don't). SLIIIIIME!
If you got mostly Cs: Your child loves movement play
The second they knew they had legs, those little hocks were dancing all over the place, and nothing has changed. Your movement-obsessed tot is always looking at their body and wondering: what can I do with this thing? Sometimes that means standing on their head, or doing one of those somersaults that hinge off the fourth vertebrae in their cervical spine in your living room, or — maybe! — perfecting a drop and snap. If you live in an apartment, boy do I feel for you. You could try an indoor slide? (SECOND THOUGHT NO.)
If you got mostly Ds: Your child loves social play
While you want nothing more than to lie on the couch (your OWN couch your partner can have the OTHER COUCH) on a Saturday night in your JOMO t-shirt rewatching Veep, your toddler is all about that next playdate. Which is good! It's great they thrive on other people and on learning how to interact socially! The ability to make plans with friends, stick to them, and not secretly wish you had appendicitis when the day rolls around is truly a gift. This is the kind of child grows up to be president. Or the host of American Idol.
(If only they could supervise themselves at the splashpad!!)