Meet Earl! He's Busy.

toddlers, toddlerhood
Earl getting his bluegrass on.

For longtime readers of Babble’s Strollerderby blog [scroll to the bottom], you may have already met my Earl. He was born back in December 2008, the bonus baby for what had been a nicely settled family of four.

It’s been a fast couple of years since Earl came into the world and he’s deep into toddler world — admittedly, not my favorite age.

I love pregnancy, looooove the newborn and infant stage (I’m a bit of an oxytocin addict, I think). The months surrounding the first birthday are also pretty awesome. Preschoolers are fun, too, what with the better books and fun challenges like shoe-tying and cutting one’s own chicken.

But toddlerhood! Oh, toddlerhood. Toddlerhood is just hard! And not for reasons of the terrible twos, because I actually find the threes much more filled with stubbornness and meltdowns and general terribleness, which I’m totally not opposed to.

But toddlerhood is just so, so …  a run-in with a stranger recently captured what I really dislike about toddlerhood. At the end of a three-hour flight, where all Earl wanted to do was put the tray up, take the tray down, kick one-two — all while repeating, incessantly “apple juice … apple juice. Apple juice! Apple juice?”, a very kind and understanding man who had to unwillingly participate in it all said to me, after I gave him a meek smile, “It’s a busy age.”

Exactly. A busy age. And for someone who is not at a busy age (and may never have been at a busy age), someone who likes a tiny bit of order and a whole lotta downtime, toddlerhood makes me want to tear my hair out. And hire babysitters.

It’s not that Earl is especially evil. I wasn’t crazy about toddlerhood with Earl’s two big sisters, Frances, who’s now 6, and Beatrice, who’s 10. They were busy, too. Earl, actually, is the easiest kid of my three. He’s a great sleeper. A happy kid. Separates from me relatively easily. Plays independently.

But still, he’s a toddler. He’s got things to do. He’s busy.