A few weeks ago, we celebrated my youngest child’s high school graduation. I remember people telling me how fast childhood would slip by, and I obviously didn’t take it seriously enough because now they’re practically grownups, and I still have their baby blankets in my closet.
I swear that every year with them is the best one yet, but there’s something extra special about the toddler years. Here are some of the things I miss the most:
1. Their made up sayings.
When my now 21-year-old daughter was two, she’d beg us to take her to “dip dip.” This meant a trip to McDonalds where she could dip chicken nuggets in barbecue sauce. Two decades later, and my daughter now rolls her eyes at the “dip dip” story, having heard it so many times before. But I can still remember my pigtailed little girl pointing to the golden arches, hoping we’ll stop to “dip dip.”
2. Their need for comfort.
There is nothing like a toddler hug, the kind where their whole body fits inside your arms and their little head rests against the crook of your neck. Sure, toddlers can drive you crazy, but when they need a hug, everything else is forgotten. My now 18-year-old son was my most cuddly toddler, and he would find every reason to sit in my lap or snuggle against my shoulder, making up for all the times he made me want to tear out my hair.
3. Reading to them.
I used to love curling up with my toddler and a book, reading it together. We had a few of our favorites—The Runaway Bunny, Goodnight Moon, and Sophie and the New Baby (for my daughter when I was pregnant with my son)—and we’d read them on repeat almost every night. They loved reciting the words with me, pretending they were reading, too, through their memorization skills. Now that they’re older, both kids appreciate a good book, and I absolutely credit our early days of reading together.
4. The drama.
OMG, the drama. Toddler’s are liable to melt over the stupidest things. Because he can’t eat the crayons. Because the toast she wanted is toasted. Because he has to wear clothes. Because the dog is in her way. Because you didn’t let him finish eating dirt. The temper tantrums are real…real ridiculous, that is. But years later, they sure are great sources of nostalgic entertainment.
5. Their imaginations.
My favorite times with the kids were when we played games of pretend. Stuffed animals became ferocious, protective beasts. Blankets became elaborate castle forts. The floor became hot lava. A simple sarong became a jeweled ballgown. Toddlers are so naturally imaginative, they are capable of bring the child out of all of us.
6. Nap time.
Toddler play hard, and they also nap hard. There were times when I couldn’t wait for nap time just so I could get an hour or so of quiet to get stuff done, or even to take my own nap. But once my toddler was out, I couldn’t help peeking in, seeing their chubby little hands curled in fists, their puckered mouths open, their long lashes against their flushed cheeks… Sleeping toddlers are truly like little angels—so much different than sleeping teens (not quite as angelic).
What are some of the things you love the best about the toddler years?
Crissi Langwell is a Petaluma local, blended family mom to three young adults, and author of a bunch of books. Her newest book, Numbered, a dystopian romance that takes place in 2050, comes out June 27, 2019. Pre-order it at amzn.to/2KMLA5n, Visit Crissi’s author website at crissilangwell.com.