Over the past two weeks my son has mastered the art of walking (finally!) and temper tantrums (already?) They actually go together quite seamlessly when he’s “toddling” past the bathroom for the billionth time that day exclaiming, “tee!” and after I tell him that we can’t brush our teeth a billion times a day he immediately collapses into a pile of limp baby mush and screams at the top of his lungs. That is, until he forgets why he’s upset and proceeds to eat a piece of lint off of the carpet.
He’s actually quite predictable, in a bipolar sort of way.
The only kind of cheese he will eat is Kraft American and only if it’s served at the beginning of a meal. It must be placed directly in his mouth and not on the tray or he’ll mush it up and throw it on the floor and if a different food is introduced before he’s done, he won’t eat any more cheese that day. When I put him in the bathtub he immediately relaxes and pees all over himself while proudly declaring “pooh-pooh!” (because right now, poop, farts, pee and penis are all “pooh-pooh” to him) and then asks to brush his teeth.
While I’m too lazy to switch out the bath water over a few tablespoons of (sterile) urine, dipping your toothbrush in pee water is where I draw the line. The moment we pull up at the park he points incessantly at the swings, swings for an hour and then points at the swings and cries as we leave. He shows me the sign for “milk” (to nurse) when he’s hungry, tired or in trouble (I’m such a push over) and whenever you ask him what his name is he says, “Dada” without missing a beat.
Being a toddler must suck. No one understands what in the hell you are saying (if anyone knows what a “baboo” “sibba” or “boo-pa” are please let me know ASAP) you’re the perfect height to reach the toilet but not allowed to play in the water and apparently, you’re not the boss – of anything. I try to sympathize with him. I picture myself in China saying, “water, no ice” while everyone nods, smiles and hands me some chopsticks. To them it probably sounds something like “sibba” or “boo-pa.”
And, admittedly, I have my own idiosyncrasies. I don’t ever eat the last of anything on my plate, it creeps me out. I also don’t eat lamb, veal, onions or cheese on my salad. I always shave my right leg first, I refuse to parallel park, and I don’t care to know how mechanical things work. I don’t deal well with change and I can’t stand when furniture lines the perimeter of a room. When a waiter brings me a salad loaded with shredded cheese and finely diced onions I want to slink down in my chair like a wet noodle and scream until someone brings me the damn salad THE WAY I ORDERED IT!
I’m not trying to air my neurosis on the internet in hopes of free mental health services (unless you’re offering), I guess what I’m trying to say is that; deep down we’re all toddlers. My son’s predictability is endearing to me because perhaps it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s only been on the planet for 16 months and everything to do with genetics. It’s helpful to know that he’ll eat cheese if I give it to him first and to cover his penis with a washcloth when I set him in the tub so the pee doesn’t go in his mouth. I feel secure in knowing he’ll ask to nurse if he’s feeling sad, or hungry, or disconnected from me in any way. And it warms my heart when every night, without fail, after we brush our teeth and sing the Sh’ma he gives me a sloppy, open-mouthed kiss on my cheek and mutters “night,night” under his breath before his drifts off to sleep.
Being a toddler is like having unadulterated PMS and being completely unapologetic for it. There is something refreshing about it, and I’m somewhat envious. God knows there are days that I wish acting like a toddler would get me a cheese-free salad and a glass of “sibba” or “boo-pa” – whichever comes with a lemon, no ice.