Ten Reasons Why Toddlers Have Got Life Sussed from The Unmumsy Mum
1. They have zero inhibitions
Forget body hang-ups or worries over looking like a bit of a wally, toddlers are not afraid to let loose a little in public – stripping naked, laughing and dancing. It’s a pursuit of pure hedonism which is actually pretty marvellous when you think about it. For many of us, the only letting loose we do in adulthood involves alcohol and ends in regret. I’d love not to care what other people think of me in public when I’m sober, but even when I’m pretending not to care, I still do. Wouldn’t life be more fun if we all adopted the attitude of a toddler when out enjoying ourselves?
2. They are sincere
There’s no bullshit with toddlers. Sure, they may change their minds a million times a minute, but at least they are not trying to mask their mood. If they’re happy, you’ll know about it. If they’re pissed off, you’ll know about it. If they desperately want to lick the kitchen bin and are annoyed by your attempts to stop them, you’ll know about it. There are no mind games. A toddler never says they are ‘fine’ with a sigh when they are clearly not fine at all. They also speak the truth, which can feel a bit dicey when out in public (‘THAT MAN IS BALD LIKE AN EGG’ being a supermarket moment I would rather forget), but it’s incredibly refreshing to hear somebody give you an honest answer. No, they don’t like your dinner. Yes, they have farted. No, they are not having a nice time. Yes, they would rather see Nanny than they would you. Harsh, maybe, but these are the facts.
3. They find joy in the little things
Toddlers may point at every toy they see on the telly or in shops and say, ‘I want that!’ but the reality is they are not materialistic. They are just as happy kicking a balloon around the living room or playing with a cardboard box. As adults, we often forget that there is fun to be had collecting conkers, skimming stones and building sandcastles. Our toddlers are kind enough to remind us of the joy in doing simple things. Concentrating on one very basic activity is actually quite therapeutic. OK, they may lose interest after not very long (fifteen seconds), but fleetingly, at least, they were fully engrossed in something, enjoying the moment and not doing an activity with one eye on their smart phone. They also don’t feel under pressure to record every waking moment on their smart phone. We could learn from that, too.
4. They’ll nap anywhere
In the car, in the buggy, face down in their dinner. Toddlers understand that those Zzzzzs are super important, and if they’re knackered they are not choosy about the nap location. That is, of course, unless it’s when you want them to nap, because they can smell parent desperation and will make it perfectly clear that they don’t need nap-guidance from you, thank you very much. Of course, such nap-refusal results in a 4 p.m. danger nap which ruins your chances of getting them back in bed for 7 p.m., which then has a knock-on to tiredness the next day, but it’s no bother as they’ll just have a little snooze in the pram when you’re supposed to be getting them ready for swimming. The most glorious thing about toddler naps is that nobody questions why they’re having one. In fact, alongside snacks, naps are the answer for everything where toddlers are concerned. In a bad mood? Have a nap. Bit poorly? Have a nap. Not really sure what else to do on this long, boring road-trip to visit relatives? Have a nap. By adulthood, excluding university (where most behaviour is permissible), it just doesn’t seem to be acceptable to go to bed in the daytime simply because you’re grumpy. I’m sure bringing the nap back on a wider scale would cure all manner of ills.
5. They don’t feel under pressure to do anything
How many times do we, as adults, do stuff we don’t really want to do because we feel we ought to? Toddlers don’t. Admittedly, they can often be coerced into sitting nicely with the promise of a snack or a magazine, but ultimately, if they don’t feel comfortable doing something or don’t much like the look of it, they won’t do it. And why should they? There have been many occasions when I have found myself standing with a toddler who’s refusing to join in with the singing at a music class, or scowling at everyone at his birthday party, and though it can be exasperating, there have been many other times when I have thought, I wish I had the same courage of my convictions to opt out of shit I don’t want to do.
6. They don’t hold grudges
With toddlers, a bad mood and a sulk over the fact that the ham in their sandwich is ‘yukky’ (even though yesterday it was ‘yummy’) is forgotten at the first mention of a Freddo. They are a walking advert for the power of forgiveness. Even a full-blown tantrum, one of those on-the-floor ones when they scream ‘NO MUMMY I WON’T DO IT’ (put their socks back on), rapidly dissolves into a cuddle on the sofa because toddlers are actually pretty wise – they know that life is too short to stay mad when there are good cartoons and biscuits to enjoy.
7. They care about themselves the most
Toddlers are a teeny bit selfish. They are not entirely selfish – in fact, my two-year-old shows flashes of empathy when I’m poorly by pretending to be Dr Brown Bear and asking if I want some ‘med-sun’, but he will always make sure his own needs are met first, and that’s OK. Self-centredness gets a bad rap but there is something commendable about looking after yourself first – not least that you are not much use to anybody else if you’ve neglected Number One. We can’t all go around behaving like toddlers because then the toddlers wouldn’t be looked after, but it’s not a bad idea to keep in mind that sometimes it does pay to be a bit selfish.
8. They are experts at getting what they want
Despite having only been on the planet for a year or two, toddlers are masters of manipulation. They know just what buttons to press and how hard to press them, because they’ve learned that Mummy and Daddy ‘choose their battles’, which means there is always at least one battle they will win. They are well aware that Mummy and Daddy do not stick to their discipline guns, or indeed any guns, and are weak enough to be pushed into reading ‘just one more story’ seventeen times if it means keeping the peace and avoiding a pre-bedtime strop. They also know that if they time a meltdown right – peak success tends to correlate with the urgency of getting out of the house – they will end up sitting smugly holding whatever item Mummy or Daddy told them they absolutely were not allowed to take with them in the car. In our house, said objects have included a spatula, an old slipper and a packet of rice.
9. They are charming
Alongside the tantrums and the fussy eating, toddlerhood is really when children start doing and saying all the cute stuff. They wobble as they walk, get their words confused, still have little folds of podge on their tummies and thighs, and are crucially still just about small enough to be picked up and cuddled, which is usually when you look at them and realise you would let them get away with murder. They are also hilarious, providing hours of laughter with their unique take on the world and questionable mispronunciations, particularly of nursery rhymes, which are alarmingly different when you change just one word: ‘Hickory Dickory Dock, the mouse ran up the cock’, ‘Humpty Dumpty shat on a wall’, and so on. In fact, nursery rhymes are hilarious full stop. I challenge anybody not to snigger when reciting, ‘What a beautiful pussy you are, you are,’ when The Owl and the Pussycat is Rhyme of the Day at playgroup.
10. They don’t worry
Perhaps the most enviable of all their qualities: toddlers do not torment themselves with niggly concerns. There may be momentary anxiety during the day about unfamiliar places or new people, but toddlers don’t lie awake at night worrying about stupid things. They don’t agonise over whether the text message they’ve just sent could be interpreted the wrong way or whether the outfit they have planned for Saturday night will make them look fat. In fact, there is no need for any foresight or planning on their part because Mummy and Daddy take care of everything. All those bigger worries exist over and above their heads and they live in what can only be described as a blissful state of ignorance. Oh to be a toddler again.
The Unmumsy Mum Diary is out in paperback on 22 February. Available to pre-order here.