Transmissions From Toddler-Town: The Aristocrats!
Living with a toddler is like living with a Ritalin-addled velociraptor. And as I’ve said in the past, every day is like that moment in Jurassic Park where the dinosaurs learn to open doors.
B-Dub now says a rather robust contingent of words.
Mom, Dad, Doggie, Truck, Girl, Boo-Boo, Puddle, Meow, Moo, Turtle, Tiger, Purple, Pop-Pop, Mom-Mom, Banana, Night-Night, Yeah, Hi, No, Tea, Teddy, Keys, Elmo, Popsicle, Orange, Red.
Some words get said five, ten times, and never return.
Some are permanent, and get thrown-around in daily use.
Next up, we’re angling for: Blue, chicken, milk, pogrom, pony, vodka, cigarillos, annihilation, Superman, orbital laser, and pterodactyl. So, fingers crossed, everybody.
Oh, when I say he “says” them, I didn’t always mean successfully. Truck is truh, or troo-ah. Girl is gee. Orange is oro. And so on. But see, now I get it. I used to meet people with toddlers and the kid would jabber some incomprehensible string of sounds (“Gobba goobey pee pee snerk florg waka waka”) and the parents are like, “Oh, sure, honey, you can have a sip of milk and then you want to go pee-pee and afterwards throw our G.I. Joes into the large hadron collider again? You got it, little person!”
And I was like, “How the fuck did you just decipher the flurry of clicks and beeps that came out of that fool kid’s mouth?” It’s because as a parent you just know. You start to draw the line between each piece of Lovecraftian gibberish and the object or concept it represents.
This kid? He loves trucks. He woke up the other night and on the baby monitor we did not hear him call for Mom, nor for Dad. No, in the sweetest, saddest voice he could muster, he called: “Truh?”
He loves trucks.
HE LOVES TRUCKS.
More to the point: he is obsessed with trucks. We literally have him flipping through truck magazines, like, the ones you find at truck stops and the like? Ads for tractor trailers and such? He flips through them at meal times like he’s actually shopping for a Peterbilt or some shit.
He’s got like, some kind of sixth sense for the things. He’ll suddenly jerk his head up, wide-eyed, and say, “Truh?” And you’re like, “No, weirdo, there are no trucks nearby–” But then you realize he heard a very distant sound of a truck on the road, or he caught sight of one of his truck toys on a very high shelf behind like, a stack of Hustlers or something, or he’ll totter over to a recliner and reach underneath to procure one of his truck toys. As if it called to him. Psychically.
Everyone thinks he’s two years old. He’s taller than some two-year-olds. We figure maybe it’s time for him to start smoking a pipe or learning how to drive stick or whatever it is that two-year-olds do.
He headbutts things. And then he says, “Bump” or “Bonk” when he does it. Which he thinks is endlessly hilarious. And it is, the first couple times. But a toddler running around and headbutting things — couch cushions, the floor, the dog, YOUR SHINBONE — stops being hilarious pretty effing quick. He might as well just run around and punch you. Which is probably next on the menu.
Toddlers throw some spectacular shit-fits. I mean, damn. Toddlers are like the genetic cross-breed between a howler monkey and a typhoon. The weird thing about the shit-fits is that they’re not always… a thing you understand. Nor are they necessarily predictable. Sometimes, sure. He wants something but can’t have it, meltdown. He’s really tired, hasn’t taken any naps, yes, a small psychotic break is incoming.
But other times, it just hits. Like lightning out of clear skies. Some tiny little grain of sand gets in his diaper and it’s suddenly, BOOM. His body becomes a writhing jumble of dead weight, and trying to pick him up is like trying to pick up a pile of grape jelly. He wails like it’s the end of the world. Spins around on the floor like one of the Three Stooges. And again: headbutting.
These aren’t super-common, but they happen often enough you’re ready to blame anything. Teething. Reality television. Climate change.
As a parent, you start to figure out ways to defuse situations like that. You misdirect or redirect (“Oh, look, a truck!”). You walk him around outside, though holding a struggling, meltdowning toddler is like trying to cradle a bobcat someone lit on fire.
Sometimes, though, you just gotta let ‘em ride it out.
Let the storm go back out to sea from whence it came.
And at least the shit-fits make them tired.
Oh, and sometimes you can’t help it, but the shit-fits are so bizarre, you laugh. You really laugh. It’s like, he’s on the floor thrashing about like a fish on the dock and blubbering some word that makes no sense in this context (“PURRRRPLE”) and you crack up. You try to stifle it, but it’s hard, because the more you try to hold it in the harder it all wants to come out. Like a burp in church.
And laughing doesn’t help them. It only seems to aggravate the tantrum.
And that only makes you laugh harder.
Being a parent is cruel. But very, very funny.
He likes to hide things.
And when he does, he throws up his hands (as if to say, “THE ARISTOCRATS!”) and gives you a sweet and quizzical look. He learned this because we did it, of course, one time, and all it takes is one time. One time he hid something and we held up our hands and said, “Where did it go?” And boom, like that, it clicked.
Kids are sponges. Inconsistent sponges. You never know when they’re going to pick up a word or a behavior. Thankfully, he hasn’t picked up any bits of profanity yet — and we have started to officially curb the language. Last night we got away for a dinner without B-Dub and it was like a great balloon popping. We just sat in the car, cursing up a storm and laughing. I mean, some truly vile shit came out of our mouths. It would’ve melted his little tiny human brain.
Anyway, the lesson here is, if B-Dub totters up to you and makes the “ta-da!” gesture, it means he’s hidden something. Like the remote control, or your car keys, or your insulin. Good times.
Parenting seems a constant struggle between the easy and the difficult, and frequently, the easy path is the least advisable one to walk. It’d be easier to plop them down in front of the TV to let them zombie-out while you get some laundry done. It’d be easier to give them the crappy sugary food they’d much prefer than to try to find ways to get them to like and crave some goddamn broccoli. It’d be easier to yell, or walk away, or stick them in a box marked FREE CHIMP and put it out with the recycling.
It’s a thing you have to deal with daily, and it’s not always easy to, well, avoid the easy. Sometimes you just want to slide into poor decisions because they’re simpler, more straightforward, with far less effort.
But then you realize, well, if I wanted easy, I shouldn’t have had a kid in the first place.
So you do the hard thing because they’re better off, and that’s your whole purpose as a parent. To hopefully ensure they’re better off.
Some of this sounds kind of awful. Or like I’m complaining. Let it be said: this is furthest-flung from the truth. Toddlers are goddamn awesome. Babies, like, infant-babies? Boring as a sack of carpet samples. They just sit there. Punching the air and squirming. Cute! Very cute. But dull as a butter knife.
Toddlers are hilarious. Start to finish, day to day, they’re hilarious. They do things and say things you never expect, as if some strange person comes into their room late at night to teach them new things. They’re like having drunk people over for dinner every night — they wander around your house and do really weird things like headbutt stuff or hide their trucks in your shoe or see themselves reflected in the oven glass and then kiss their own reflection (seriously, B-Dub does this — the kid’s a bonafide Narcissist).
And they’re capable of wildly sweet gestures, too. A random hug out of nowhere is like, WUUUUUT. Or they’ll lean on you, or give you a little smooch, or bring you a present (like your insulin, or a mouse they killed when you let them outside). B-Dub will sometimes walk up to you, say your name or presumed title, then pat you on the hip or shoulder as if to say, “Good job, old horse. Good job.” He’ll give you a little nod and then totter off again to try to, I dunno, choke on a penny or fling himself from the top of the couch because that’s how he rolls.
Point is, it’s only when they get to be this age that you start to see the people they’re going to become. And it’s then that it all starts to really become worth it — like, the equation of your effort and frustration and sleepless nights start to yield a very real sum, and the sum grows every day as if it’s yielding a kind of emotional interest that you can bank and visit on days both great and not-so-bloody-great.
Oh, and since we’re gluttons for punishment, now we’re looking for a new doggy.
Wish us luck. Or, at least, grant us your sympathy.