Toddlers always smell sticky sweet, like an old lollipop. Occasionally after a nice long bath and that baby-scented bedtime lotion, a flicker of baby giggles flits into my memory and we snuggle up close before bedtime. I loved having my babies, but I do not miss actually having young babies. I may be in the minority, but I sure do favor the sweet innocence and simultaneous, often challenging beginnings of independence that bubble up as little children grow into bigger ones. Don’t get me wrong. Toddlers are frustrating and beyond exhausting. They are also hilarious and excited by everything. Every single thing is brand new and so as a result, you get to experience the newness right alongside them. Holidays become more than just another day on the calendar. First times of each new experience are captured religiously with cameras as we try to sear these memories in our brains for the future. Shall I go on?
My oldest son was telling me about one of his final days of Kindergarten this week, emphatically describing the thrilling events of his field trip with hand gestures, excited tone, and a very loud voice.
“MOM! We saw a human skeleton! And we played at the giant playground! And we raced around a table and hit the buttons that lit up! And we ate lunch together! And we sang on the school bus and I sat with Liam!” And on it went for about ten full minutes.
At the end of his animated story telling, I looked at my growing child. I mean, really looked at him. Wow, has he really grown up in the past year. He has gone from a nervous, distracted, hyper little dude who could not read or write, to a 4 ft tall almost first grader who tells me about every detail of his day, takes the bus confidently like a pro, and cracks better jokes than I do (almost). I see the shell of the little kid he was melting away into an actual ‘big kid’. It is both wonderfully satisfying and insanely terrifying. All of you parents know this feeling, I’m sure.