Since becoming a parent a year and a half ago, my husband and I have muddled our way through many stages with our daughter. The newborn stage where we were so sleep deprived we could have been mistaken as extras in The Walking Dead; the baby stage where we spent the majority of our time cooing, cuddling, and covered in spit up; the poop-up-the-back stage, the solid food stage, the cutting teeth stage, the learning to crawl and then walk stage, the starting to talk stage, and all of the stages in between. We passed through each stage with pride, relief, and wonder that our little girl had grown out of yet another stage of her life.
Now, we have entered an entirely new stage: toddlerhood. We have heard about this stage from survivors; success stories that made us swoon, and terrifying tales that made our toes curl. We braced ourselves for the onslaught and entered this stage cautiously optimistic only to find that toddlerhood is not a stage at all.
It is survival of the fittest. It is eat or be eaten.
It is a phenomenon.
We have discovered that there are countless different phenomena that accompany having a toddler, and here are six of the most perplexing:
1. A toddler's energy is virtually infinite, yet most food items placed in front of a toddler at mealtime end up partially chewed and thrown onto the floor. Who or what is supplying their energy? I want the name of their dealer.
2. As parents, we painstakingly research to find the perfect gifts for our toddlers. Developmentally appropriate, developmentally stimulating, useful across developmental stages. Come time for our toddlers to receive their gift, and they are either scared of it, bored of it, or distracted by a stray cat toy or an empty box laying beside it. I may do all of my Christmas shopping at the pet store this year. Or at the recycling depot.
3. Bedtime. As the parent of a toddler, there are some days that I start looking forward to bedtime at the crack of dawn. I watch as my toddler starts giving her bedtime cues: constant eye rubbing, staring into space, uncontrollable yawning. I begin to feel the excitement of the incumbent nap, and then the phenomenon happens. That damn energy dealer gives my kid a shot in the arm and she turns into a tiny version of the Tasmanian devil; running, screaming, spinning, and showing no signs of fatigue at all. Yet another bedtime bites the dust.
4. Toddlers can be extremely savvy at figuring things out. My toddler can find and load the picture app on my phone and scroll through the videos before finding one she likes and hitting the play button. She knows how to turn on and load the Playstation. She can turn on the DVD player, the flatscreen, and the air conditioner, and she can make phone calls. All of these displays of brilliance, yet she cannot figure out that crayons are not for eating.
5. Until having a toddler, I thought that mood swings were reserved for the premenstrual and the pregnant. Colour me corrected. I recently observed my toddler in a full meltdown because she didn't want to wear pants. Throwing herself onto the floor and screaming, she was completely inconsolable. TEN SECONDS later I observed her laughing hysterically at something the cat did. Evidently, if you don't like the mood your toddler is in all you need to do is wait five minutes.
6. As the parent of a toddler, one quickly learns that there is no end to the hurt feelings, the injustices, and the boo boos that a toddler experiences throughout the day. The best phenomenon of toddlerhood is that nine times out of ten a kiss can solve anything. Whether it's a deflated ball or a scraped knee, a simple kiss can solve most of the problems in a toddler's world. It's a phenomenon I hope my toddler never outgrows.
There are many other examples of ways in which toddlerhood is a phenomenon, and some are unique to each individual toddler.
No matter what the phenomenon, one thing remains certain; our toddlers, no matter how bizarre their behaviours, are all phenomenal.