Toddlers are the most simple, yet mind baffling creatures on the planet. They really don’t need a whole lot to survive and yet they believe that they need, own and deserve EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE… most specifically whatever you’re eating, sitting on and looking at. Just today at lunch, I was having a few green olives. I know for a fact that Vivi does not like green olives and yet she made a such a protest that life simply could not continue on for her until she had an olive. She put one in her mouth and said “OOH! YUMMY!” then two chews later spit it out onto my plate and said “Uh, I don’t like it.”
*Insert my exasperated face right here, folks*
While I constantly try to expand her horizons in regards to new foods, new activities, new places and new forms of entertainment — it really boils down to a few really simple things to keep her happy. Chances are it’s the same with most any toddler, a few basics and they can at least get by as somewhat manageable human beings. (And let’s be honest, even if someone were stupid enough to give into every whim and will of a toddler, the toddler would most certainly find something else to complain about — so why even bother appeasing them in the first place?)
Let’s be honest here, if a situation does call for clothing, you know exactly which outfit your toddler will never argue with you about. For Vivi it’s a pair of stretchy sweatpants and a My Little Pony hoodie. Girl after my own heart. There comes a point when you even wonder why you buy anything but sweatpants and My Little Pony hoodies. Maybe giving in to such logic and sense kicks in with the third kid?
Every kid is different, but each kid has a thing. Vivi’s is balls, and I’m convinced we could have nothing but balls for her to play with and she would remain a happy and contented child. Like idiots, we try to think outside the box and try new toys — nothing has ever replaced her love of balls. What we have learned is there are basics when it comes to toddler toys, and I’m fairly certain every daycare center in the world knows this already, but a few balls, a play kitchen, something to ride on, something to hide in, something to read and some little animals are all any toddler really needs.
Food allergies aside, cheese and crackers make up the bread and butter of the toddler food groups. Most toddlers I know have no real problems eating fruits and vegetables, as long as it’s the fruits and vegetables that they like. Vivi will happily eat avocado, sweet peppers and broccoli but won’t touch blueberries. Whatever kid, that’s kind of weird. But if you’ve been around toddlers long enough, you know you don’t go into a stressful toddler situation armed with nothing but carrots and hummus. You’ll be eaten alive. You come in with cheese and crackers, maybe even fruit snacks — toddler ambrosia.
Vivi’s life revolves around bunny. He goes everywhere with us, does everything with her. If Vivi’s around, then you can be sure bunny is nearby. Addie had woobie, and woobie still sleeps with Addie every night. He has since she was 6 months old. Sometimes it’s a blanket, other times a toy, perhaps even a pacifier or some other strange object — the point is all toddlers have their thing, the thing they can hold onto and know it will all be alright. (Hell, I’m 31 and I have a lovey — my camera. When it is in my hands I know I’m okay.) If the world ended tomorrow? We could all survive as long as we had bunny.
5. A Warm Place to Sit
I love it when Vivi walks up to me when I’m sitting on the floor, turns around and plops her rear end right in my lap. Say you needed a hug right now, how many people could you walk up to and crawl into their lap and sit there until you felt better? I feel blessed that Vivi has so many warm laps she can sit in, and that she’s willing to take any number of those laps if mine isn’t available. Even if mine is the only one around and she’s not having a very good day, I can wrap her in a blanket on any number of surfaces with her dear bunny and she’ll know she’s okay.
6. A Vice
Vivi’s is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. No matter what turmoil is going on in her life, Mickey can calm the beast. I don’t believe in bribing kids, especially not with screens, but I do believe in having a fail safe, a way out — and Vivi’s is Mickey. Sometimes I have to call on the power of the DVR three to four times a day, other times we can make it through an entire week without Pete’s antics and Mousekatools. I don’t keep track, I just thank Disney Junior that Mickey is there when I need him.
Other things have come and gone, the iPad and bath time were a couple of vices that got us through some pretty terrible times over the last year, but the rest remain the same. I believe if toddlers came with their essentials of toddler survival written on their arm the way quarterbacks wear their plays — the world would be a much calmer place.
Then again, they’d probably figure out that we figured them out, and they’d change the game AGAIN with their terrifying toddler telepathy (seriously, how do they all know just the right moment to lose their damn minds?)
Find more of Casey’s writing on her blog moosh in indy or her Babble Voices site Shutterlovely. She’s also available on twitter, facebook, flickr and Instagram. If you can’t find her any of those places? Check the couch, she’s probably taking a nap.