They say that the second child is wildly different from the first child
I’ve never been one to believe such notions. The saying was an old wives’ tale. Children are children. Differences are a good thing. Our first child Ilse had been a cinch to raise: smart, talkative, kind, creative, and healthy (she rarely catches whatever cold is passing in school). Surely, the second child would be the same. Naturally, Alice could not be more different. These differences have become much more obvious now that she is a toddler. Alice is smart, quiet, mischievous, active, and scheming. She is healthy in her own right but hasn’t been exposed to germs like Ilse. Due to COVID, we have yet to take her on a plane. One of the most interesting observations I’ve made is how much more observant we (my husband or other caregivers) need to be around Alice because she gets into EVERYTHING. I mean EVERYTHING. There isn’t a door, chair, or table she won’t climb or open to get what she wants. I fear the day when Alice figures out how to undo the “child-proof” locks we have on all doors and cabinets. As I tell my husband, parents, and in-laws, Alice is the child I prepared for the first time I became a mom. She was certainly not the child I was expecting as a second-time mom. I don’t know what I thought I would get other than another child, perhaps someone easier than my first.
The other day I realized that having a toddler around is like having a pet. Want to be a pet mama? Baby-sit a toddler for an hour. You might change your tune. For parents of toddlers like myself, allow me to illustrate the five ways toddlers are just like pets.
They touch themselves and their poop
While I understand and accept that touching one’s body is part of learning about one’s body and hygiene, I don’t get the touching one’s poop! As of late, Alice loves to touch her poop. What’s the allure of touching poop or fishing it out and throwing it on the floor? Where do toddlers learn to do this? I understand why animals touch themselves and their poop. Is it the same rationale for toddlers? Curious parents want to know.
Lounge on others
Alice loves to lounge on others. She lounges in her teacher’s laps at preschool. She lounges on her on the sofa. She lounges on her Dad or me if we are on the floor. In a way, lounging is her love language. If Alice likes you, she will sit on you. I bet it’s the same way for pets.
Nudge for attention
Alice nudges or pushes a person’s arm for attention or help. While we stress the importance of “using her words,” she also nudges us when she wants something. Sometimes she pulls our arms and guides us. Don’t pets do the same thing?
Uses mouth for activities other than eating
Anytime Alice uses her mouth to open a lid to Pringles or plastic ware, I am reminded of how dogs and cats use their mouths to open or carry things. She also uses her mouth to see if toys or coins are food. See, toddlers are just like pets.
Fearless of just about anything
The last similarity between toddlers and pets is the lack of fear. Just as pets don’t seem to fear humans, toddlers don’t seem to fear anything, at least Alice doesn’t. She walks up to animals with giddy curiosity and points at them. She runs in indoor shopping centers without regard for other people. She loves the water so much that I think it might be time for swim lessons and a water safety revisit.
As a parent, I am constantly amazed at how my children continually challenge me, especially my toddler daughter Alice. Outside, I have to be a faster runner to catch her from running into shopping carts, the road, or other people. Indoors, anything “not Alice-friendly” has to be placed out of reach. Her problem-solving skills are amusing and annoying at the same time. Now, if only she could stop touching her poop.