I’m Not Sorry My Toddler Acts Like a Toddler, Thank You Very Much

This isn’t a real post, more of a passing observation. I’ve noticed over the past year that I’m doing that thing that many first time parents do: Expecting way too much from my two year old. As the oldest of ninety-thousand kids, I absolutely hated this growing up. At five I was practically expected to run a household and yet my parents were thrilled when any younger siblings could function on any basic level at the same age. Awe! Look at your little brother! Five years old and able to sit there without hitting his friend in the head with a bat! Great job! While I was babysitting said brother at his same age for short periods of time and making my own lunch. As a first time mom, I totally get it now. Even though I grew up with a ton of kids (that I was forced to babysit for no goddamn reason), I still had no idea what to developmentally expect from my own kid. And because my little developed language skills early af I expect him to behave like he’s much older. When he pushes or hits or inspects things or runs or is loud I think to myself, Jesus, what is happening (I do not say these things out loud). When we leave friends or family I am always tempted to send a text that is like, “Sorry my little XYZ…” And sometimes I have sent those messages. And I almost did today, too. And then I didn’t.

My son had a play date with his little friend this morning and they were playing in the pool. These two kids have been friends since they were infants (aside from the pandemic) and they’ve always been polar opposites in temperament. They’re both advanced for their ages in speech and other areas, but where my friend’s son is cautious and observant (and always has been) mine is ALL MF IN ALWAYS. When they were tiny and we did sensory activities, my son would be rolling in the cooked spaghetti where my friend’s son would be sitting on her lap eyeing the activity critically. Same today in the pool. Mine was like full on mermaid, splashing, jumping, rolling around, and his little friend was like dude, I’ll come over there but I don’t really want to get wet for a while and also don’t you dare splash me.” So it goes and has always gone since the days they more or less exited our bodies. I joked that jump fourteen years ahead and they’ll be in a car together like, “SLOW DOWN! WTF” or “SPEED UP! ARE YOU NINE-HUNDRED YEARS OLD??” It makes sense. My friend is calm and peaceful and delightful and I can be a little intense. I love them both. They balance each other well. But there’s also a part of me that is eternally struggling with my own stuff where I’m like “Geez, I hope everyone isn’t judging my kiddo for being his big wonderful personality self.” And I almost sent a text like, “Thanks for coming and sorry for the splashing and wildness and disinterest in sharing etc for a bit.” I didn’t feel this urge because of my friend, she’s not judgy at all, and she’s kind and compassionate. I felt this way because of my own conditioning. But then I stopped myself because I remembered that they’re two. They’re two years old and figuring out the world and they just lived through a pandemic. Two year olds are forming their ideas about the world and testing boundaries and acting out and having big feelings and running and getting into shit and yelling and doing it all. They’re two. Now before someone comments something about “kids need rules!” no shit. I’m not talking about permissiveness. When he does a normal two year old thing that’s not kind or whatever I handle it in an appropriate way. But none of us should apologize for our kids being kids and existing in the world as they do, in big, dramatic, loud, weird ways. Everything is new, they’re learning, and figuring out how their own unique character fits in with everyone else.

So if you’re a parent who feels the need to apologize for your kid being a kid I just want to say, Don’t. Don’t do it (unless they like break a million dollar family heirloom or something because they thought it was a dinosaur egg, obviously). They’re all doing the same shit in various forms, just figuring out life with your guidance and love. Let’s normalize kids being kids and remove some of the shame we all experience as parents.

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