Lately I’ve been mourning the loss of my boys’ toddlerhood – the days when they hugged me with abandon, belly laughed over a silly sound and viewed the world with wonder and amazement.
I miss the days when I had little people who smelled yummy and wanted to be around me ALL THE TIME. Now, they are teenagers who are very different creatures – they smell like sweat and body spray and they wouldn’t be caught dead holding on to my leg or arm let alone spending hours at my side.
It’s sad to reminisce but, as I’ve been mentally flipping back through my kids’ toddler years, I’ve also noticed something curious—my kids as toddlers and as teenagers are actually more alike then I thought. See if you agree with my top five ways that teenagers are just like toddlers:
- They screw with your sleep. When they are little they wake up before the sun is up then, when you finally get adjusted to that sleep cycle, they suddenly become creatures of the night who can’t get out of bed before 10 am without being physically dragged out of their rooms. My youngest was a crack-of-dawn kind of kid until a couple of years ago. As a toddler, he would run into our room at 5:30 am, his little feet would pitter-patter on the floor and announce that it was a sunny day. I would hoist him on to our bed and pray that he would give me just a few more minutes of sleep – that never happened. Back then, I considered sleeping to 6 am as “sleeping in.” Now, as a teenager, my youngest believes that being in bed – hell, being home before 11 pm is absurd; so I wait up for him. Of course, then I wake up early because I’m still recovering from toddler time. It really efs up your sleep.
- They like bad music. I was never that mom who popped in Disney CDs in the car and sang along with my children. My kids listened to what I listened to: Classic Rock, Alternative Rock, maybe a little Frank Sinatra just to keep it interesting. But every now and then they would sneak some of that kiddie crap in at home and I would find myself listening to things like Get’cha Head in the Game from High School Musical - and singing along! Thankfully they’ve outgrown Disney tunes (even, happily, anything from the Frozen soundtrack) and they listen to music I want to listen to. But, every now and then, I’ll be out jogging, listening to my music on shuffle and some misogynistic rap song that one of my boys downloaded will pop up. I’m not a prude but the lyrics in songs by 2Chains and Schoolboy Q are not meant for the listening pleasure of a 47-year-old mom even if the tunes are catchy and easy to run to.
- Toddlers and teenagers do stupid things. There was a time when my kids weren’t rushing headlong into stupid activities or asking to do, say, eat something that no reasonable person would want to do, say, or eat. That time was in between the toddler and teenage years.
See if you can tell if my kid was a toddler or a teenager when he made these statements:
- “I’m going to sit on top of the swing set and see if I can catch my friend as he swings up.”
- “What if we put three people on the sled and spin the sled as we go down the hill?”
- “What if we pile the snow up to the roof and make a sledding hill?”
It’s hard to tell isn’t it??
(FYI: Only the last statement was made by a teenager but it could have gone either way. Or maybe it’s just boys…).
- Both toddlers and teenagers can be overly emotional and prone to tantrums. Granted, most teenagers will not flail about on the floor in the middle of a supermarket to make a point but they are just as capable of throwing a tantrum as a toddler. Both toddlers and teenagers might break down in tears when they don’t get their way and in both cases the tears will not be real. Toddlers and teenagers will try to wear you down by asking the same question over and over; that question is usually “Why?” as in “Why can’t I have another popsicle/puppy/toy?” or “Why can’t I have the car to drive my friend 700 miles to see her boyfriend?” Often the question “Why?” will be followed by foot-stomping and a loud, exasperated, “It’s not fair!” You may even see a pout – although it’s only cute on the toddler and then, only the first time.
- And, finally, neither toddlers nor teenagers communicate very well. Toddlers have a very limited vocabulary by virtue of their age and their level of education, while teenagers have a vocabulary limited less by lack of knowledge and more by attitude. Toddlers can’t always say what they mean because they don’t quite have the words (which makes them angry) and teenagers can’t always say what they mean because we parents “just don’t understand!!” However, “No,” “mine,” and “why?” are common means of communicating in both age groups. Beyond that, teenagers grunt, sigh and speak volumes by saying nothing. Although toddlers rarely say nothing they often do speak gibberish, which is not much different from teenage grunting. Occasionally, toddlers swear like teenagers, too. Like when you drop the “f” bomb in front of your 4-year-old and he repeats it over and over again in preschool the next day often with the perfect timing.
So, the next time you find yourself staring at your teenager and wishing for the toddler version to return, remember they are the exact same creature only less portable.
Do you think teenagers and toddlers are alike? If so, how?
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