I pity toddlers. I feel so sorry for those Pillsbury Doughboy look-alikes. I do. When I see one, I don't think, "Oh, how adorable." I think, "Oh, you poor dear." Because being a toddler is not all fun and games. I mean, yes, some of being a toddler is -- literally -- fun and games. But most of it is hard work. Being a toddler may, in fact, be the world's toughest job.
1. They Don't Know What The Rules Are
Infants get to do pretty much whatever they want, whenever they want. The same cannot be said for toddlers. Toddlers are expected to follow the rules. But there's just one problem: Most rules are discovered only AFTER they've been broken. You can't draw on the sofa, not even in a pretty color?! You shouldn't throw sand, but it's so lightweight?! You're not supposed to bathe your doll in it the toilet... Ok. Got it. (Next time, you'll bathe the cat instead.)
2. They Have No Control Over Their Own Schedules
Last month I went to the DMV to renew my driver's license and, a few hours later, was told that I wouldn't be seen. I was instructed to go home and come back another day. I almost threw a temper tantrum. Okay. I sort of did. Toddlers are perpetually at the DMV. And it must be maddening. Really enjoying playing with your train? Well, it's time to stop. Having fun at the park? We're leaving in five minutes. (Whatever five minutes is...)
3. They Never Get To Pick What They Eat
Mealtime for toddlers is a lot like eating in a foreign country where you don't speak the language and can't read the menu. Most food is new and, therefore, strange. And some food -- new or not -- is downright scary. But with toddlers there's an added twist, they get strapped into their chairs when they eat. It's not surprising that toddlers are picky eaters. It would only be surprising if they weren't.
4. They Don't Know Most Things About Life Yet
Adults know they can't get sucked down the bathtub drain, but toddlers do not. If you did think it was a possibility, you would probably hate baths. If you believed a Golden Retriever wanted to eat you, you would probably be scared of dogs. And if you were worried that the dinosaurs on your pillowcase might come to life while you slept, you might be terrified of linens. That's why some toddlers are scared of baths, some toddlers are scared of dogs, and some are scared of pillows. Most toddlers have some fears. And, to them, they're not irrational ones. It's only life experience -- and an understanding of the most basic scientific concepts -- that turns the world into a place that makes some sense. Okay, that's not true. No matter how old you get, the world doesn't make sense. But, at least most of us aren't afraid of baths.
5. They Literally Can't Use Their Words
If you knew so few words that they could easily be recorded within a few lines of a baby book, you'd probably resort to crying every now and then, too. If a toddler's shirt is bothering him but he can't figure out how to say, "Oh my God! The tag in this shirt is so scratchy! I'd like to change into something more comfortable! Preferably in organic cotton!" he gets upset. And what's the reaction from mom or dad? They tell him to use his words. "Use your words!" If he could, he would!
This post originally ran on Mammalingo