Anyone who's ever had a toddler knows that life wanes between manic and random. It's raw human nature concentrated in a small space which is a disastrous and endlessly awesome stream of possibilities. The toddler years are the first round of parenting badges that I can say, with honor and pride, I've earned twice. Thrown to the fire I've overcome the challenges of supermarket breakdowns; suicidal jumping flight attempts off shelving; wearing Halloween costumes or footed PJ instead of clothes; and car seat Hoodini-ism to name a few. However this last toddler run has proven to be a massive challenge in and of itself. The only badge I can say was easiest with my last toddler was, surprisingly, "potty training"... (Because she wanted big girl panties with her sisters). Other than that, I've felt like I must be doing something wrong... Either the point system has changed or the rules, but I'm not earning my badges as readily as a veteran of my caliber should.
- Embrace life's chaos: My toddler cries for no reason... It's like she has a cycle already. Her emotional outbursts are like random summer thunderstorms followed by a calm breeze and a beautiful rainbow. The roller coaster ride is violently beautiful.
- Seek justice and remember the little guy: She polices everything with the "that's not fair" clause. Sometimes it's only from her vantage point, but... Justice is swift in her courtroom.
- Listen to your gut: She makes questionable irrational decisions and Nostradamus like predictive statements that weird me out. A wry, "Has this person died yet?", is a creepy favorite question of hers. She knows when it's gong to rain and apparently she was "there" when both her parents were born.
- Present your REAL self: Her hair is never done. Not because I don't care, but because she doesn't; and she refuses sitting still for anything other than an off-center disheveled bun.
- Shame is for losers: She will shamelessly pee on anything at any time. She's been potty trained since she was 14 months but if it's convenient for her she'll go for it. The party must go on. Life must be lived. She must be there.
- Get what you want out of life: She bites fruit to "test" it and puts it back if "it sucks". Even in the grocery store (which yes, I end up buying). It’s gross, but I know she always has the ripest, best tasting fruit.
- Love aggressively: She curses like a sailor only to tell me exactly how much she loves me or how awesome I am.
- Set life-goals based on your dreams: She's training to be a Power Ranger through binge watching the show on Netflix and trying out the moves on her sisters. She’s hell bent on making this happen and NO ONE will get in her way.
- Surround yourself in mindful wonder: She loves intentionally and infinitely. She re-teaches me all the cool things I've forgotten about life and relationships since I've become an adult. I’ve begun to realize that most toddlers exist in a mindful state and can only be here now.
- Embrace the challenges head on, unarmed, and with zeal: She lives as though tomorrow may not come but treats each new day like a surprise birthday party just for her...
As civility sets in and life lessons begin shaping her decisions, I witness the raw untamed wildness of toddlerhood dissipate. Every day I drop my other kids off at school I get closer to next fall. And as the excitement of dropping her off at school continues to escalate, I feel a deep sadness that the innocent, insane and loving nature of my last toddler may become a faint memory in her long and wonderful story.