Monday, May 4, 2015

Parenthood: Week 99 – Degrees Of Cuteness

When Ollie was an infant almost everything he did was cute. It was cute when he sneezed, it was cute when he farted, and it was even cute sometimes when he cried. Now that Ollie is a toddler, none of these things are cute anymore. Ollie’s sneezes are accompanied by steams of snot, that if we don't wipe off quickly, he’ll rub all over his face, his are farts are stinky and gross, and there is nothing cute about a toddler crying at full volume, or any volume.

This doesn’t mean that Ollie isn’t cute anymore. Every stage of Ollie’s life has been cuter than the previous, and while I don’t think Ollie has reached his pinnacle of cuteness, I’m sure he is still heading in that direction. What is cute about Ollie has evolved.

When Ollie was an infant every little thing about him was cute, but for the most part all of the things he did that we found so adorable were not deliberate actions. What we found so cute in those early days of his life was things like how he yawned. This wasn’t an action made with any intention to interact with us; it was just something he did instinctually. So what are we left with now that so much of what made him so cute has evolved into things that are not so adorable anymore?

Well, we are left with a lot.

The things that Ollie does now that are cute are expressions of his effort to interact with the world. Here’s a couple examples of Ollie’s current cuteness from the past week: When Ollie gets excited and “runs,” his arms flail behind him in the most adorable way. Ollie's ball handling skills are so awesome that they often result in him throwing a toy basketball behind him intentionally. There’s Ollie’s effort to talk, which while baffling at times is almost always adorable. Then there’s his new bedtime ritual in which he says “cheek to cheek” and wants to go from hugging Diana to me and back to Diana squeezing his face against ours.

The cute-factor is getting ridiculous right now. It is exactly his intentionality that has raised Ollie’s actions to this new level of cuteness. Now along with the cute stuff, the challenging stuff has gone into a much higher gear as well. This is probably why toddlers have developed through evolution a heightened level of cuteness.

Will Ollie ever stop being cute? Ehh. . . I’ve watched my own students loose their cute-ness and it’s tough to watch, but here’s the thing. As awkward as my teenage students get, I never forget how cute they were when they were in younger grades and this memory sustains me and give me strength when I’m dealing with their oh so special teenage issues.

No matter how old Ollie gets, I’ll never forget how cute he was as a toddler, and just like with my students, while sometimes I miss the cuteness, I really love what comes after cute: a maturing young adult. While I will miss the eventual passing of the cuteness, I looking forward to Ollie being so much more than “cute.”

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