Before our boy was born, all I ever heard was ‘babies are the best!’ and “you’ll be sorry when they start walking”. Well, I have to strenuously disagree. Here are 10 reasons why toddlers rock compared with babies.
1. There is more of a two-way relationship.
Let’s face it, with babies you are just feeding/ cleaning/ carrying them. They just feed/ cry/ poo/ sleep/ repeat. Toddlers are so much better. They don’t blindly eat what and when you want them to, agree to be carried where you want to go, or poo within the confines of their nappy. You have more of a really meaningful two-way relationship and have the opportunity to have positive interaction with them, like when you feed them, when you’re in a rush to get out the door and invariably in nice and/or work clothes, and they scream “No!” while simultaneously swatting the spoon away, enabling you to be covered in their food. It’s just their way of caring, because when you get hungry later on at work you can nibble on the crusty bits on your blouse. Really, it brings a warm feeling to my heart.
2. They go through teething.
Teething is such an amazing experience. What can be better than those close moments holding your toddler close at 2am, 3am, 4am, and 5.30am with them crying/groaning like an injured cat in heat, with their whole face leaking all over you. Really, I live for such moments. Parents often complain that teething is unpredictable and they cannot prepare for it but this is indeed not true; it is my experience that our boy will usually undergo a bout of severe teething (eg. molars) the night before a particularly busy work week OR when you’re already sick. This enables you to not only deal with the misery of teething, but also the misery of work stupidity when you are sleep-deprived. Indeed we are fortunate to be able to (as His Holiness the Dalai Lama says) “have so many opportunities to practice our patience and compassion”.
3. Their nappies are never predictable.
Really, the predictable, sweet-smelling soiled nappy of a breast-fed baby is so boring. Why would you want that when you can have an excitingly diverse arrange of steamers handed to you on a daily basis? If you’re lucky, there will be a dramatic explosion with that wonderful situation of “shit all up the back”. Truly wonderful. The fact that your toddler is active, wriggling and (if he’s a boy) is constantly reaching for his ‘little brother’ and/or soiled nappy only adds a new dimension of complexity. I welcome this challenge. It also enables you to practice reflex training as per point 9.
4. Their tantrums inspire amazement.
Newborn babies are so boring – they just feed, crap, and sleep. When you are out and about, you can pretty much guarantee that they’ll be sleeping. Toddlers on the other hand make outings so enjoyable. From pointing at people with disabilities to emptying low-down shelves in expensive stores, they really brighten the whole experience. If you’re really lucky however, sometimes when you’re laden down with handbag, nappy bag, shopping, and groceries, your toddler will choose this opportune moment to have a tantrum and lie screaming on the floor. This gives me the fantastic opportunity being able to practice “engaging my core” (the mantra of workouts everywhere these days) by holding onto everything, bending over to pick the boy up all while simultaneously praying that I am not going to prolapse a disc in my spine. If you are even more fortunate, you will also have bystanders criticise your mode of parenting and you get to practice patience-training by not hurling abuse at them, whilst simultaneously reassuring them that you are not a child-beater because your kid is screaming blue murder.
5. Their feeding schedule is never boring.
Newborn babies, again, are so boring and predictable with their feeding – breast or bottle feeds, either on demand or accordingly to schedule (whatever your mode of parenting). With a toddler however, you are SO LUCKY to be able to expand your creativity with meal options and feeding methods in a desperate attempt to have them eat something (for some reason parents crazily think their kids will waste away if they miss a meal (despite logic to the contrary) – clearly this irrational fear is injected by secret capsule into your forearm during labour). Parents of toddlers can rest assured that their kids will want to eat, usually when (1) You are in a rush (2) You forgot to bring snacks (3) You’re in a place where food and drink aren’t allowed. Bless them.
6. Their interaction with other children is wonderful.
Babies barely interact with you, let alone other children. There is nothing like child-child interaction to really warm your heart. Especially when you have been called into the childcare administrator’s office (equivalent of seeing the principal) because your son has been beating other children with a giant plastic asparagus OR you have to sign a ‘medical incident form’ because other children have bitten your child. Your indignation (“that other child is clearly a result of bad parenting”) rapidly dissolves when you are told that ‘the other children had no choice’ because your son had sumo wrestled them to the floor and engaged them in a lock that would have made the Gracie family proud. Subsequently you feel insanely proud and at the same time wonder if you are a bad parent because of this pride.
7. Your workouts get to be ultra intensive.
Working out when you have a baby is so ‘yawn’. They lie there quietly in the stroller, not making a sound, letting you get a full workout without interruption. Why would you want that when you can (1) Have a toddler that refuses to sit quietly and screams non-stop in the stroller (2) A situation where you obsessively try to time feeds/meals so that your toddler will be sleeping during your workout – never works! (3) Have a toddler who insists on having a workout himself.
8. They really show that they love you.
People always go on about babies ‘loving you’ and there are a million websites talking about the ’10 signs that baby loves you’. I’ve said it before, it’s not love; it’s biology. Babies are meant to look cute, look into your eyes, snuggle into your body; it ensures survival. Toddlers however REALLY show when they love and need you. From screaming when you’ve left the room, to obsessively clinging to your leg when you’re trying to get stuff done, sharing all manner of bodily secretions, ripping off your glasses/ earrings/ jewellery/ important paperwork… even waking up and calling for you in the early hours of the morning. THESE are all signs of real love.
9. They help you remain physically and mentally alert.
Babies just lie there… boring… predictable. You leave them in one spot, and when you come back moments later, they’re still there. Toddlers however, enable you to train to be hypervigilant. This enables both mental training (eg. calculating in a split second what could go wrong if your toddler climbs on the table with a metal knife, about to stick it in the power socket) as well as physical training (reflexes are tested when catching cutlery thrown off the table, power is tested when performing short sprints after your toddler to save them from near death, and endurance is tested when your toddler refuses to walk, you’ve forgotten the stroller, and you have another 5km to go). And what is so amazing about this training is that you have the opportunity to do it SLEEP-DEPRIVED which no doubt increases its benefits exponentially. You are essentially in the Marines’ Hell Week. All the time.
10. They help strengthen your immune system.
This is a big one. Babies are protected from sickness by maternal antibiotics both before birth and afterwards from breast-feeding. The laws of nature have been very smart to ensure that the waning of antibody protection occurs at a time when your child enrols in childcare. You are therefore fortunate to be exposed to the weapons-grade-infections that your kid brings home. There is nothing like looking after a sick child when you yourself are sick. If you are really lucky, your husband will have man-flu at the same time, which let’s face it is much like Ebola, except instead of haemorrhaging blood, they haemorrhage pitifulness. You make it through the other side, only to be hit by the next wave of biological warfare. Parents look at this constant sickness the wrong way; really we should be grateful – this is like CrossFit for the immune system.
I ♥ toddlers 🙂