Bio of a toddler

Meet Butter, our resident two-year-old.

His favorite activity is dumping things. Water, sand, popcorn, sun lotion, jars of pricey spices, salad dressing, rice milk, liquid soap…if it responds to gravity, he will watch it fall to the ground. Intermediary stops (such as a bucket, bowl, or sink) are tolerable for a few dumps, but then wholly unacceptable surrogates for the Mother of All Dumping Grounds: The Floor.

His idea of cleaning up is shoving things under the couch. He does this without being asked, but when prodded to help clean up he shoves fistfuls of anything he can reach under the nearest furniture.

His favorite place to sit is in gravel.

His favorite place to lie down is in gravel. Second place: sidewalk.

His favorite animal is a cow. He will gladly tell you about the time he was feeding a calf celery and forgot to let go and the calf bit his finger. Gently. But it hurt. But it got better. And now he likes big cows not baby cows.

His favorite color is yellow.

His favorite game is “Where’s Butter?”

His favorite snack is cream cheese. Right out of the tub. Thanks for the whipped organic option, Trader Joe’s, since regular cream cheese is hard to eat with a tiny Green Toys yellow spoon.

The only utensils he’ll use are tiny Green Toys yellow spoons and polka dot handled cheese spreaders.

The only comfort he wants when psychically wounded is draped on his mama with both hands entwined in her hair. Like an orangutan baby.

His favorite word is “no.” His favorite reply is “no.” His favorite shout is “NO!” His favorite question is “No?” And his favorite whisper is “no.”

His favorite outfit is naked. Gloves, hat, and oven mitt are optional.

He likes his food slightly colder than room temperature. Hot’s no good, warm’s no good, fresh from the fridge is no good. Even popsicles are asked to wait until they are two minutes shy of a puddle.

His favorite number is TWO!

Everything is two.

And now he is, too.

Happy birthday, you crazy delicious goofball love bug.

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Can’t be sure

Because taking a woman out of her element and letting her parent two amazing baby humans is akin to stringing her up by her ankles and asking her to live with bats, I’m not always sure what I’m doing. It’s hardly my fault. I’m a diurnal, visual biped forced to hang upside down and fly around echo-locating by night.

So I was surprised when our two-year-old decided his outfit for the week would be just socks. On his hands. And nothing else.

I shouldn’t have been shocked. His brother did the same thing for one whole month, four years ago. Also in the winter. It’s as though winter nudity with impromptu mittens/puppets is in the toddler manual.

Wait, is it?

The week of rain at the end of a rainless winter did not surprise me. Neither did the frenetic and borderline sociopathic cabin-fever behavior during the same time. What did shock me was how planned activities totally took care of everything. One part dance party, one part playdough party, one part playdate, one part role playing goodness. Who knew? (I did. I had just forgotten. We’ve had a dry winter and I haven’t had to do this for over a year.)

And I was taken aback when the six-year-old decided it was time to use his words, react calmly, and speak in a normal tone of voice.

For the first time in six years.

Who knew that there was a phase during which children were reasonable, interesting, and fun to be with?

Oh, yeah: Me. Because it happens at least once an hour.

Sucked in by the cute

Butterbean is trying his hardest to get sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council. Dude, he is pushing our every button and flagrantly violating every toddler rule of international conduct.

So why are Russia and China refusing to approve an official sanction? Their evidence, entered into the official Cuteness Registry of Adorable Guerrila Warfare:

He yells, “Mama, pee!” and runs to his little potty and sits. With his pants on. And as I come rushing over to help, he grins, gets up and says, “nah, no” and runs away.

His favorite game is Yes-No. I ask him if he’s ready to get out of the tub and he says, “Yeah.” So I stand to get him and he changes his mind. “Nah,” he smiles. So I sit. Then he says, “Yeah” and I start to stand and he says, “Nah.” He can do this, honestly, 30 times before he plays something else.

He waits for me to go to the bathroom, then climbs the drawer handles to the kitchen counter, unscrews the spice jars’ lids, and dumps each into the stock pot. Then waits…*waits*…with a spoon and asks if I want some soup. When I say yes (through clenched teeth) he puts on the lid and signs “wait.”

He stands in the door to the kitchen and counts on his fingers: “Two, two, two; GO!” and runs through the house. Then back to the starting line and “two, two…”

I think if I can just get Portugal and Columbia to vote with me on their way out, I might get the council to approve a Yogurt Embargo until he cleans up his act.

No.

No? No.

The 18-month-through-3-year phase (the “No NO NO!” era) is getting funnier. Butter has been saying “no” a lot since 9 months, but it’s the most popular choice in his limited vocabulary. (Thank goodness for ASL.) It would be easy to get irritated with our little throw-everything, scream-in-frustration, answer-every-single-statement-or-question-with-NO Butterbean, but it’s just too funny to predict his every answer. Sad, for him, that powerlessness and frustration. But funny for us. (Sorry Butternut. I know it’s wrong to laugh at your tiny personhood, as real and important as it is to you. But if I take everything as seriously as I should, I’d go bloomin’ insane.)

***

Me: Isn’t this a good lunch, Butter?
B: [shoveling down the food; nods]
Me: Yup, this is lunch. “Lunch” is what we call it when we eat in the middle of the day.
B: NO!

It’s almost as though he’s a member of Congress, albeit a little more straightforward when he just barks “NO!” every time someone talks.

***

Me: Thanks for peeing in the potty, Butterbug. Now Mommy has to pee.
B: No!
M: Yes. I need to pee.
B: No-o!
M: [proceeding with the necessary steps] Buttercookie, I have to listen to my body, and my body says time to pee.
B: No! NO!
M: Honey, I’m right here. You can see me, you can hug me. I need to pee.
B: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! [throws himself to the floor a few feet from me, intentionally bangs head on tile, twice, and cries a bit harder]

This won’t last. He’ll get more words, he’ll decide that some things should get a “yes,” and he’ll learn that nothing is permanent except our love for him.

Plus, he’ll get to the Age of “No. Wait, Yes! Wait, No! Wait! YES! NOOOOO! [sobs]”

But dang, it’s a laugh-until-you-cry kind of world, life with a toddler. If an intense and highly spirited Three Year Old hadn’t killed my memory, coping skills, and patience reserves, maybe I would have remembered how much fun Two really can be, as long I can spare some respect and empathy for the Two-er.

Which I, thankfully, can. Right Butterbutt?

Wait. Don’t answer that.