Woe Is Toddlerdom

I wrote this essay for Babble in 2011 and every once in a while a friend will ask me about “the toddler thing” I wrote. Here it is again. Well, here’s some of it and a link to the rest on Babble.

One morning, my then one-and-a-half-year-old son unlocked the child-safety latch of our bottom bathroom drawer. Upon finding my makeup, he began breathing heavily with excitement and staggering around. What a haul! What loot! Imagine his disappointment when, just as he was about to pry the shiny cap off a red lipstick, I picked him up and carried him out of the bathroom. I didn’t congratulate him on his discovery. I didn’t point him in the direction of the hallway’s white walls and say, “My home is your canvas. Go forth and create.” Instead, I ruined everything.

Before I had children, when I’d go to the grocery store and see a little kid in the cereal aisle screaming and crying, I’d shake my head. Why was it that every time I saw a toddler, he or she was throwing some kind of fit? What could be so difficult about spending the day playing, napping, and eating? Now, after living among their kind, I should apologize. Not to you, but to them. Here’s the sad truth: for toddlers, the world is a rough place full of squelched mysteries, restrained freedoms, and nonsensical commands. I think I’d rather be fourteen again than be a toddler.

What does an old, forgotten Goldfish cracker from the bottom of a car seat taste like? What kind of pattern does yogurt make when it splatters onto the floor? What sound do cookbook pages make as they are torn in half? These and many other great discoveries are often stopped by us, the big people in our toddlers’ lives.

How frustrating! What must it be like to get stopped by a security guard time and time again? To be constantly redirected and rerouted as you tried to go about your day, without an understanding of what you had done wrong? What if you sat down to read the newspaper and drink your coffee when suddenly – out of nowhere – some giant swooped down and plopped you in front of a pile of plastic blocks? You bet you’d protest. You’d holler your tush off.

So what’s the reward for a toddler’s natural curiosity? A little freedom and encouragement? No, just the opposite. Oppression! We pin them to furniture all day long: the stroller, the car seat, the high chair. All of the straps! All of the restraints! How maddening it must be to sit, captive, in front of a tray covered with food you can’t identify or don’t remember liking. No wonder it’s so often tossed to the floor.

Read the rest here… 

I wrote a thing called Why Toddlers Are (Almost) Exactly Like Superheroes. It’s now on the Huffington Post. Even if you read it here a few weeks ago, it’s more fun to read it there today. 
If I were you, I would go and take a look. I might leave a comment like, “Ha ha! Ouch. My sides. Best thing ever written!” Then, I would take a nap. I don’t know if you’re tired or not but there’s nothing like a nap, right? 

I wrote a thing called Why Toddlers Are (Almost) Exactly Like Superheroes. It’s now on the Huffington Post. Even if you read it here a few weeks ago, it’s more fun to read it there today. 

If I were you, I would go and take a look. I might leave a comment like, “Ha ha! Ouch. My sides. Best thing ever written!” Then, I would take a nap. I don’t know if you’re tired or not but there’s nothing like a nap, right? 

Why Toddlers Are (Almost) Exactly Like Superheroes 
They are freakishly strong. No, toddlers weren’t bitten by radioactive spiders or born on the planet Krypton. But have you ever tried to pry a pack of gum out of a toddler’s hand in the Target checkout line? 
They’re territorial. Superheroes hate when outsiders invade their turf. And toddlers? One word: “Mine!”
They get mad. Remember the Incredible Hulk? Multiply that by about one hundred, and you have the transformation a sweet toddler undergoes when, in the midst of playing, you tell her it’s time for bed. 
They can become invisible. Some superheroes, like Spider-Man, can quickly disappear into the night. Others, like The Shadow and Invisible Woman, can actually turn themselves invisible. And your toddler? All he has to do is close his eyes, and he thinks he’s disappeared.
They change often. Superheroes change often. And toddlers are changed often. 
They have enemies. Superheroes fight bad guys and toddlers fight… well… you. Yes, you are your toddler’s arch nemesis. You don’t get to wear a cool costume, but your catchphrases are “Don’t touch!” and “No.”
They’re the strong, silent types. Most superheroes are men (and a handful of women) of few words. So is your toddler. The good news for you is that your toddler will grow out of it. And, even before they can talk, toddlers can dance around naked after a bath. Is there anything better than a little naked dancing after bath time? What can superheroes do? Freeze time? Catch bullets? Big deal.
They want to help. A big part of a superhero’s shtick is helping others. And toddlers want to help too. The problem is they’re not very good at it. Unless you find it helpful when someone pulls the clean laundry out of its basket and throws it all over the family room. The exception is pushing buttons. Toddlers make excellent button pushers. 
They work alone. If you take the Avengers and X-Men out of the equation, superheroes don’t play well with others. And toddlers? Well, the technical term is parallel play. But, I’m just going to call it like I see it. 
They enjoy repetition. You’re probably already well aware that toddlers love to have the same songs sung to them over and over and the same books read to them night after night. But let’s talk about superheroes for a moment: they wear the same costume each day; they fight the same villains again and again; and they’re some of the most monogamous men on the planet. 
They fly. Wait. Sorry. My bad! Typo! Yes, superheroes fly. Toddlers cry. 

Why Toddlers Are (Almost) Exactly Like Superheroes 

They are freakishly strong. No, toddlers weren’t bitten by radioactive spiders or born on the planet Krypton. But have you ever tried to pry a pack of gum out of a toddler’s hand in the Target checkout line? 

They’re territorial. Superheroes hate when outsiders invade their turf. And toddlers? One word: “Mine!”

They get mad. Remember the Incredible Hulk? Multiply that by about one hundred, and you have the transformation a sweet toddler undergoes when, in the midst of playing, you tell her it’s time for bed. 

They can become invisible. Some superheroes, like Spider-Man, can quickly disappear into the night. Others, like The Shadow and Invisible Woman, can actually turn themselves invisible. And your toddler? All he has to do is close his eyes, and he thinks he’s disappeared.

They change often. Superheroes change often. And toddlers are changed often. 

They have enemies. Superheroes fight bad guys and toddlers fight… well… you. Yes, you are your toddler’s arch nemesis. You don’t get to wear a cool costume, but your catchphrases are “Don’t touch!” and “No.”

They’re the strong, silent types. Most superheroes are men (and a handful of women) of few words. So is your toddler. The good news for you is that your toddler will grow out of it. And, even before they can talk, toddlers can dance around naked after a bath. Is there anything better than a little naked dancing after bath time? What can superheroes do? Freeze time? Catch bullets? Big deal.

They want to help. A big part of a superhero’s shtick is helping others. And toddlers want to help too. The problem is they’re not very good at it. Unless you find it helpful when someone pulls the clean laundry out of its basket and throws it all over the family room. The exception is pushing buttons. Toddlers make excellent button pushers. 

They work alone. If you take the Avengers and X-Men out of the equation, superheroes don’t play well with others. And toddlers? Well, the technical term is parallel play. But, I’m just going to call it like I see it. 

They enjoy repetition. You’re probably already well aware that toddlers love to have the same songs sung to them over and over and the same books read to them night after night. But let’s talk about superheroes for a moment: they wear the same costume each day; they fight the same villains again and again; and they’re some of the most monogamous men on the planet. 

They fly. Wait. Sorry. My bad! Typo! Yes, superheroes fly. Toddlers cry

A long, long time ago, I wrote an essay on toddlers. I first had the idea for it when my now four year old was about 18 months. Well, my third kiddo is about one and a half now. And, it feels like deja vu. If you missed it the first time or just really have nothing better to do, here’s my old essay for Babble:
"One morning, my then one-and-a-half-year-old son unlocked the child-safety latch of our bottom bathroom drawer. Upon finding my makeup, he began breathing heavily with excitement and staggering around. What a haul! What loot! Imagine his disappointment when, just as he was about to pry the shiny cap off a red lipstick, I picked him up and carried him out of the bathroom. I didn’t congratulate him on his discovery. I didn’t point him in the direction of the hallway’s white walls and say, “My home is your canvas. Go forth and create.” Instead, I ruined everything.
Before I had children, when I’d go to the grocery store and see a little kid in the cereal aisle screaming and crying, I’d shake my head. Why was it that every time I saw a toddler, he or she was throwing some kind of fit? What could be so difficult about spending the day playing, napping, and eating? Now, after living among their kind, I should apologize. Not to you, but to them. Here’s the sad truth: for toddlers, the world is a rough place full of squelched mysteries, restrained freedoms, and nonsensical commands. I think I’d rather be fourteen again than be a toddler.”
Read more…

A long, long time ago, I wrote an essay on toddlers. I first had the idea for it when my now four year old was about 18 months. Well, my third kiddo is about one and a half now. And, it feels like deja vu. If you missed it the first time or just really have nothing better to do, here’s my old essay for Babble:

"One morning, my then one-and-a-half-year-old son unlocked the child-safety latch of our bottom bathroom drawer. Upon finding my makeup, he began breathing heavily with excitement and staggering around. What a haul! What loot! Imagine his disappointment when, just as he was about to pry the shiny cap off a red lipstick, I picked him up and carried him out of the bathroom. I didn’t congratulate him on his discovery. I didn’t point him in the direction of the hallway’s white walls and say, “My home is your canvas. Go forth and create.” Instead, I ruined everything.

Before I had children, when I’d go to the grocery store and see a little kid in the cereal aisle screaming and crying, I’d shake my head. Why was it that every time I saw a toddler, he or she was throwing some kind of fit? What could be so difficult about spending the day playing, napping, and eating? Now, after living among their kind, I should apologize. Not to you, but to them. Here’s the sad truth: for toddlers, the world is a rough place full of squelched mysteries, restrained freedoms, and nonsensical commands. I think I’d rather be fourteen again than be a toddler.”

Read more…

When teaching children to talk, why are the noises that farm animals make given such a high priority? We seem to focus on the names of family members, body parts — and then jump to “a sheep says ‘baaa.’” (Who decided on these anyway. I have never, ever heard a pig “oink.”) 
And why is there so little attention paid to wild animals besides lions, tigers and bears?  Like, what sound does a zebra make?
No, really, what sound does a zebra make?
I have no clue.
P.S. As I get closer to my move, I’ll be posting less frequently. Awww. Stop. No. Stop. Don’t cry. 
(Photo from Allegro Fabrics.) 

When teaching children to talk, why are the noises that farm animals make given such a high priority? We seem to focus on the names of family members, body parts — and then jump to “a sheep says ‘baaa.’” (Who decided on these anyway. I have never, ever heard a pig “oink.”) 

And why is there so little attention paid to wild animals besides lions, tigers and bears?  Like, what sound does a zebra make?

No, really, what sound does a zebra make?

I have no clue.

P.S. As I get closer to my move, I’ll be posting less frequently. Awww. Stop. No. Stop. Don’t cry. 

(Photo from Allegro Fabrics.) 

Because the world really, really, really needed more Disney princesses, the company just unveiled, “Sofia the First,” a preschool-aged princess. And, in case you blinked or sneezed earlier this year, Disney also has a line of big-eyed, small-waisted princess toddler dolls. (I bet they were born potty trained!) 
This all reminds me of a story. Do you know the story of the Disney princess posse? I first learned about it years ago from a fantastic New York Times Magazine article by Peggy Orenstein. If you don’t know the story, gather around and put down your iPhones for a moment. Or at least put them on vibrate. (And yes, I’m paraphrasing A LOT.) 
Once upon a time, Disney’s princesses lived and worked alone. Snow White hung out mainly with her dwarves. Ariel lived under the sea. And poor Cinderella was stuck cooking and cleaning for her bitchy stepmother and stepsisters all by her lonesome. There were others too. Many of them toiled away in relative obscurity. And then, about 10 years ago, a wise marketing man had an idea: The princesses should be friends! Unite the princesses! And so, he waved a magic wand and created one sparkly princess megabrand. And, as Cinderella’s fairy godmother once said, “Put ‘em together and what have you got? Bippity boppity boo!” Or, to put it another way, “Cha Ching!”
But, here’s my issue. Enough with the princesses already! So, now they have baby princesses. Preschool princesses. And enough princess merchandise to decorate your home and the home of everyone you know or are at least Facebook friends with. Bedspreads. Galoshes. Toothbrushes. Costumes. Wedding dresses (for adults). Underwear. Hats. Clocks. And snack food.
It’s time for something new. Something girls can embrace – and perhaps, one day even aspire to become.
Here’s my idea. Drumroll…
The Disney Mayoral Collection. As in, a Mayor, the woman or man who runs a city, municipality or town. How many princesses are in the current Disney line? Eight or nine? The Mayoral Collection has thousands (hundreds? I don’t know really but I’ll look it up on Wikipedia if asked) of potential licensed characters.There’s a ton of stuff that could be sold with the collection. My costumes would include pantsuits, skirts, and button-down shirts. There’s also a dress-up version for the little girl (or little boy) who wants to pretend they’re attending a fundraising dinner. Accessories like briefcases, pens and American flag lapel pins will also each be sold separately.
A year or so after we introduce it, we’d launch the “Mayoral Re-Election Collection” which includes campaign buttons, microphones, podiums, and lawn signs. All of the posters come with a blank line where a kid can write in her or his own name: “Re-Elect Mayor Ella,” “Zachary for Mayor” and even the old standby, “Mayor Chloe Welcomes You to Our City.” And, free with every purchase, a Twitter account and ghostwriter.
The Mayoral Collection would be more educational than what Disney currently offers children through their princess line. Kids can pretend to head up local governments, balance budgets, run meetings and hold press conferences. Most importantly, they develop a sense of civic pride. What do princesses do all day? Dress up? Tote around purses? Wave? Get photographed with imagined “baby bumps.”
And, of course, we’ll have a movie. What’s a Disney product without a movie? Or is that, what’s a Disney movie without a product? (Whatever.) The movie will be about a smart yet naïve young woman who runs an election campaign against the city’s corrupt and morally bankrupt Mayor. The odds will be stacked against her. There will be obstacles. But, with hard work and a fairy godmother in the form of a wise campaign manager on her side, she just might pull it off. (She will be played, of course, by Anne Hathaway. And yes, she’ll get a makeover twenty minutes into the film.)
So, those are my ideas. Do any of you have plans to visit Disneyland over break? If yes, can you print this out for me and hand it out to anyone you see in costume? Except Pluto. He’s useless. 

Because the world really, really, really needed more Disney princesses, the company just unveiled, “Sofia the First,” a preschool-aged princess. And, in case you blinked or sneezed earlier this year, Disney also has a line of big-eyed, small-waisted princess toddler dolls. (I bet they were born potty trained!) 

This all reminds me of a story. Do you know the story of the Disney princess posse? I first learned about it years ago from a fantastic New York Times Magazine article by Peggy Orenstein. If you don’t know the story, gather around and put down your iPhones for a moment. Or at least put them on vibrate. (And yes, I’m paraphrasing A LOT.) 

Once upon a time, Disney’s princesses lived and worked alone. Snow White hung out mainly with her dwarves. Ariel lived under the sea. And poor Cinderella was stuck cooking and cleaning for her bitchy stepmother and stepsisters all by her lonesome. There were others too. Many of them toiled away in relative obscurity. And then, about 10 years ago, a wise marketing man had an idea: The princesses should be friends! Unite the princesses! And so, he waved a magic wand and created one sparkly princess megabrand. And, as Cinderella’s fairy godmother once said, “Put ‘em together and what have you got? Bippity boppity boo!” Or, to put it another way, “Cha Ching!”

But, here’s my issue. Enough with the princesses already! So, now they have baby princesses. Preschool princesses. And enough princess merchandise to decorate your home and the home of everyone you know or are at least Facebook friends with. Bedspreads. Galoshes. Toothbrushes. Costumes. Wedding dresses (for adults). Underwear. Hats. Clocks. And snack food.

It’s time for something new. Something girls can embrace – and perhaps, one day even aspire to become.

Here’s my idea. Drumroll…

The Disney Mayoral Collection. As in, a Mayor, the woman or man who runs a city, municipality or town. How many princesses are in the current Disney line? Eight or nine? The Mayoral Collection has thousands (hundreds? I don’t know really but I’ll look it up on Wikipedia if asked) of potential licensed characters.

There’
s a ton of stuff that could be sold with the collection. My costumes would include pantsuits, skirts, and button-down shirts. There’s also a dress-up version for the little girl (or little boy) who wants to pretend they’re attending a fundraising dinner. Accessories like briefcases, pens and American flag lapel pins will also each be sold separately.

A year or so after we introduce it, we’d launch the “Mayoral Re-Election Collection” which includes campaign buttons, microphones, podiums, and lawn signs. All of the posters come with a blank line where a kid can write in her or his own name: “Re-Elect Mayor Ella,” “Zachary for Mayor” and even the old standby, “Mayor Chloe Welcomes You to Our City.” And, free with every purchase, a Twitter account and ghostwriter.

The Mayoral Collection would be more educational than what Disney currently offers children through their princess line. Kids can pretend to head up local governments, balance budgets, run meetings and hold press conferences. Most importantly, they develop a sense of civic pride. What do princesses do all day? Dress up? Tote around purses? Wave? Get photographed with imagined “baby bumps.”

And, of course, we’ll have a movie. What’s a Disney product without a movie? Or is that, what’s a Disney movie without a product? (Whatever.) The movie will be about a smart yet naïve young woman who runs an election campaign against the city’s corrupt and morally bankrupt Mayor. The odds will be stacked against her. There will be obstacles. But, with hard work and a fairy godmother in the form of a wise campaign manager on her side, she just might pull it off. (She will be played, of course, by Anne Hathaway. And yes, she’ll get a makeover twenty minutes into the film.)

So, those are my ideas. Do any of you have plans to visit Disneyland over break? If yes, can you print this out for me and hand it out to anyone you see in costume? Except Pluto. He’s useless. 

CREVI (crev-eye): The many new and ever-changing folds, creases and indentations on a baby in which substances can become lodged or trapped. I witnessed the changing of my one-month-old niece recently.  Her body isn’t very chubby, yet, so I was flabbergasted at the site of all the folds and ripples on her tiny little legs.  In my amazement, I blurted out this word to describe her many crevices. (Submitted by Noah Dunavan of Turlock, CA.)Well, Noah, in my amazement, I blurted out this word at my four month old’s recent pediatrician visit. After you sent the word to me, it instantly became a part of my vocabulary. And, when I was describing how red my kiddo got in all of his creases, I used the word CREVI to describe them without any explanation at all. Perhaps one day my doctor will use it with his patients. And so on and so on until CREVI achieves world domination or a level of fame reserved for only British royalty or a Kardashian sister. I’ve also referred to CREVI as “the lost and found.” What about you? What do you call “baby folds”?


CREVI (crev-eye): The many new and ever-changing folds, creases and indentations on a baby in which substances can become lodged or trapped. I witnessed the changing of my one-month-old niece recently.  Her body isn’t very chubby, yet, so I was flabbergasted at the site of all the folds and ripples on her tiny little legs.  In my amazement, I blurted out this word to describe her many crevices. (Submitted by Noah Dunavan of Turlock, CA.)

Well, Noah, in my amazement, I blurted out this word at my four month old’s recent pediatrician visit. After you sent the word to me, it instantly became a part of my vocabulary. And, when I was describing how red my kiddo got in all of his creases, I used the word CREVI to describe them without any explanation at all. Perhaps one day my doctor will use it with his patients. And so on and so on until CREVI achieves world domination or a level of fame reserved for only British royalty or a Kardashian sister. I’ve also referred to CREVI as “the lost and found.” What about you? What do you call “baby folds”?

FORMULATTE n. [Fr. formula + latte]Formula in a bottle that is given first thing in the morning and appears to have caffeine-like addictive qualities. My daughter is quite addicted to it and acts as if she can’t function without her morning bottle, much like us without our morning coffee. (Submitted by Lindsay in Syracuse, NY) 
You know what I’m addicted to? Sleep. Try as I can, I can’t go without it. But, here’s the problem with having three kids…. someone is usually awake. And, usually, that someone is me. So, yes, I’ve started drinking a lot more coffee lately. But, no, it’s not that helpful. And, this is why, I recently decided that I can kind of see how the premise of the movie “Home Alone” came about. I don’t condone it. I can just see where (the great) John Hughes was coming from. 

FORMULATTE n. [Fr. formula + latte]Formula in a bottle that is given first thing in the morning and appears to have caffeine-like addictive qualities. My daughter is quite addicted to it and acts as if she can’t function without her morning bottle, much like us without our morning coffee. (Submitted by Lindsay in Syracuse, NY) 

You know what I’m addicted to? Sleep. Try as I can, I can’t go without it. But, here’s the problem with having three kids…. someone is usually awake. And, usually, that someone is me. So, yes, I’ve started drinking a lot more coffee lately. But, no, it’s not that helpful. And, this is why, I recently decided that I can kind of see how the premise of the movie “Home Alone” came about. I don’t condone it. I can just see where (the great) John Hughes was coming from.