Monday, February 23, 2015

Parenthood – Week 91: Toddlerhood

One night I was eating dinner with Ollie at home, just the two of us. I asked him if he wanted a banana and he pointed at it enthusiastically. I peeled it and broke off a small piece and handed it to him. Ollie looked down at the small piece of banana and tried to push it away.

Ollie’s pointing isn’t always very accurate so I brought over each dish of food that was on the table. Each time I brought something to him, he would wave it away and cry. After a couple minutes of this, he was screaming and waving his hands around while tears were literally shooting out of his eyes.

Then I realized that he was pointing at the looking and motioning at the banana, but he already had a piece of banana. I figured why not try the banana again. Without thinking I just handed him the rest of the banana, peel and all. He grabbed the bottom of the banana with both hands, started eating it and calmed down in seconds.

Ollie's tear-soaked face was now calm in a gentle smile as he sat there eating his banana. Exhausted, confused and spent over this ordeal, I put my head down on the dinner table. Ollie tipped his head over to the side and looked confused. Slowly he leaned his head down onto the table and started giggling as he tried to mimic me.

Being the parent of a toddler makes you realize that you really are on the roller-coaster and not the marry-go-round. (If you don’t get this reference you have to watch this clip below from the Parenthood movie that describes life as a parent perfectly).

Parental amnesia makes a lot of us forget the struggles of raising an infant as we face the frustrations of living with a toddler. Yes, Ollie sometimes makes a mess when he eats, but it took me a month of daily sessions filled with Ollie’s frustrated screams to teach him how to take a bottle. The wide range of emotions of a toddler can be hard to address but you get so much more out of these interactions than with a infant who has yet to learn how to smile.

I say all of this stuff not to argue that toddlers are better than infants, but to provide some perspective on our struggle with toddlers. The challenges seem worse and harder because these are challenges that are new to us.

I loved being a parent of an infant and I’m loving sharing my life with a toddler. It’s a exhausting and difficult, but it’s a ride I’m enjoying because I get to share it with my special little guy.

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