Where Has My Toddler Gone?
My son recently turned 4. It is a fascinating age filled with developmental leaps. Long gone, thankfully, are the rigors of potty training. Seemingly on the way out as well are the explosive meltdowns. With these welcomed changes away from the unpleasant traits of toddler life I am starting to realize there are also some endearing qualities soon to go as well. Fleeting qualities that I better hurry up and enjoy right now. Better yet, I should slow down, be less distracted, and soak in the sweetness while still occurring.
Here are 5 fleeting toddler traits that need to be enjoyed now:
Toddlers pepper us with questions. At times it feels like an unrelenting inquisition. We must recognize, though, at some point, they may turn to anyone but us for their answers in life. As kids get older they tend to seek alternative sources to the answers of life's limitless amount of questions. We must work hard to solidify our role as a trusted source of knowledge. That means staying fully present and engaged when getting passionately drilled on the cause of Batman and Superman's mystifying feud. Thank you DC Comics for the movie commercials that upended my son's entire world.
Toddlers mispronounce words. They do this in the most precious of ways. My son refers to bagels as bengals. I know it is my duty to gently correct and coach away this endearing verbal gaffe, but it tugs forcefully at my heart strings. Panera has indeed benefited from an uptick in revenue from our family. I often suggest we dine there in hopes that my son enthusiastically cries out that he "wants a bengal".
Toddlers can be carried. It gets more difficult each day, but it can still happen. Sadly, though, it does not happen as often as it used to. My son will often opt for walking on his own as he rightfully looks to claim his independence. Every now and then, typically heading up to bed in the evening, I get the request from my son to be carried. Each time it occurs now I am immediately struck by just how dense and long this boy is growing to be. I love getting to carry him. The day is fast approaching, though, where a combination of his size and or disinterest will render this now cherished act obsolete.
Toddlers refer to us with sweet nicknames. I personally get Dadda. My wife gets Momma. It is not every time, as he has recently taken to addressing me as Michael, which he does with mischievous self-satisfaction, but I still get Dadda quite often. When I hear Dadda spill out in his high-pitched voice it melts me. It is too cute and can not be ignored, but unfortunately will not last forever. I do not foresee dropping my son off at his college dorm for the start of freshmen year and hearing a heartfelt "bye Dadda" cascading down the hallway as I somberly exit.
Toddlers love spending time with us. Creating quality time with my son is one of the most difficult things I juggle as a father. It is obviously the single most important thing I can do. When "Cats in the Cradle" comes on the radio now I reflexively jump to change the station as that tale of misspent time is unbearable to hear now as a young father. I can only hope my son yearns to be with me throughout every stage of his entire life, but we all know that is not reality. I know the concept of quality time with your kids is bigger and longer lasting than just the toddler years, but his need for my attention right now is palpable. I must consciously create the time to give it to him. It is what he deserves and what ultimately brings me joy as well.
Slow Down And Take In Your Toddler With Presence
Just about everyone seems to share the same experience of life ticking by at an incredibly alarming rate. While days can often feel long, the months and years roll on. Becoming a father has turned me, an already hyper-sensitive being, into a total emotional mush. Commercials with dads and kids get my eyes watery in an instant. In this relatively short amount of time as being a father I am already starting to experience bouts of sentimentality for periods of my son's life that have passed by. Moments like having been small enough once to ball up and sleep on my chest for hours are recalled with an emotional mix of happiness and yearning. As parents, we need to recognize that these qualities are precious and bound to pass with time. Slowing down and becoming aware in the present moment is the greatest gift we can give to both our kids and ourselves.
What are your favorite traits from the toddler years with your kids? Leave a comment and please share. We would love to hear.