Here are some observations I've had lately about toddlers... I'm sure they're completely obvious to anyone who's ever spent five minutes with one, but its been fun for Clark and I to experience Booker at this age.
1. Toddlers like options. If I tell Booker he's having Mac & Cheese for lunch, then a tantrum will most definitely ensue. If I ask Booker if he wants Mac & Cheese or a hot dog, then he'll happily eat one or the other.
2. Toddlers react strongly to small levels of respect. At least mine does. Booker gets tired of being told what to do all the time. If we use "please" when we ask him to take a bath or go to bed, he's much, much happier. He's still trying to learn "thank you" but somehow he says "come" all the time for "you're welcome."
3. Toddlers are independent. When we get together with Clark's family and there are 30 other kids around, we usually say goodbye to Booker as he runs off with his pack of cousins and see him two hours later when its time to go. If we happen to bump into him and try to say "hi" or "we love you," we get an emphatic "NO!" He then runs in the opposite direction as fast as he can.
4, Toddlers are like sheep. Especially with their pack of cousins. Booker isn't a great eater but when he's sitting at a table with his buddies then he'll eat as long as they do. Its been especially fun observing Booker as he interacts with his older, cooler cousin Seaver. Booker adores Seaver. When Seaver does cartwheels down the driveway, Booker puts his hands on the pavement and tries to lift his feet. When Seaver climbs a tree, Booker holds the trunk and smiles up at him. When Seaver plays out in the freezing cold rain, Booker is two steps behind him shivering and shaking but having the time of his life. This level of respect is also reserved for cousins Dax and Jarem.
5. Toddlers can do the same thing for hours. For Booker, this is puzzles. He probably spends a total of two hours a day doing puzzles. We line up his puzzles and he goes down the line putting them back together. Of course, this level of attention quickly disappears as soon as we walk into the chapel for Church.
6. Toddlers are sticklers for rules and routine. We live in a gated community and I like to take Booker's car seat buckles off once we're through the gate so he can just hop out of the car once we're home. He absolutely hates sitting in his car seat, but if I try and take his buckles off a moment too soon he freaks out.
Now that Booker is in a big boy bed, our night time routine involves shutting him in his room and walking away. He yells, cries and bangs on the door but will not, under any circumstances, read his books or play with his toys. Once he decides to go to bed, he must slide his bathroom door closed, crawl under his covers and keep his sippy cup in one arm and Dora in the other. We find him asleep this way every single night.
7. Toddlers hate rules/routine and will flout them at every opportunity. No example necessary.
8. Toddlers are peculiar about their appearances. Lately Booker refuses to take off his plastic gym band (the one that identifies him at the gym's daycare). He wears them in the shower and to bed- day and night. I have to sneak in when he's sleeping and carefully remove it from his arm. As a result, we've worn through several bands in the past few months. Another example, Booker has several pairs of cute Old Navy flip-flops- perfect for hot Arizona summers. But the kid refuses to wear them or even acknowledge them as shoes. Sometimes I'll casually pull them out and try to place them on his feet. Its useless- he freaks out. No flip-flop style shoes period.
9. Toddlers have an exaggerated sense of achievement (and defeat). You should see Booker when he completes a puzzle. His face lights up, he starts clapping and then he has to run around getting a high-five from every person in the house. Every puzzle. Every time. Its quite tiresome for everyone, him included. On the other hand, when Booker has a poopy diaper he becomes sullen and withdrawn. I'm not sure what Clark and I have done to make him feel so ashamed of being poopy, but I feel terrible because of it. We're trying to teach him that EVERYBODY POOPS! But still, its always his darkest moment of the day. I can't wait until he learns how to poop in the potty. His sense of accomplishment on that one will be a thrill to witness.
10. Toddlers are power hungry little tyrants. Ask Booker any question and his immediate answer is "NO." This is usually followed by a well-thought out, "OK" once he processes the question. "Booker, do you want some fruit snacks?" "NO!!! OK." This takes some patience on my part. I've also learned to pick my battles. I never thought I'd be the mom who lets her kid run around the chapel without shoes on. But if his bare feet mean he won't be throwing his grapes at the family behind us, then I'm happy and he's happy. Won the battle, not the war.
11. Toddlers may be completely self-involved and manipulative, but they're also incredibly sweet and sensitive. Booker's sweetest moment of the day always comes as we're carrying him off to bed. He desperately tries to charm us into keeping him up later. He starts pointing out body parts, animals noises, colors, numbers... anything he's learned and thinks might impress us. Its always so hard to part with him after that. I also love his hugs and kisses, even when he's coerced into them (which he usually is). And even though I hate it when he somehow sneaks out of his bed and crawls into ours at night, I love cuddling with him and he's the best alarm clock to wake up to ever.