They speak without filter. Grope complete strangers. Act on every whim, no matter how crazy. And yet they’re always forgiven – because, well, everybody loves them. No, I’m not talking about Charlie Sheen. I’m talking about that tiny bundle of mischief, curiosity, and boundless energy known as a toddler.
While their actions may get them in trouble now and then, toddlers generally get away with things deemed “inappropriate” in the adult world. In fact, sometimes I envy my 1-year-old, and his complete lack of inhibition (and, at times, pants). Here are six toddler behaviors I’d love to indulge in, just for a day.
1. Telling the world what I really think. As adults, we grudgingly accept the petty annoyances of daily life. We put up with sitting on the tarmac for an hour, or scouring the restaurant for our missing waiter. Toddlers, however, rarely suffer in silence. In many ways, they’re like Michael Douglas’ character in Falling Down (you know, the one where he shoots up a fast-food place because they won’t serve him breakfast). A toddler will let you know exactly how he feels about that flight delay — and heaven help the waiter who makes him wait 20 minutes for his apple juice. Just once, I’d love to stop being civilized and vent my frustrations, toddler-style. You’re closing the grocery line I just spent 30 minutes waiting on? Well, I’m gonna scream until I pass out or you call security. Your move, cashier lady. Your move.
2. Napping anytime, anywhere. There is a saying “Never wake a sleeping baby.” I’m pretty sure that goes double for toddlers. Few things are respected like a slumbering (and quiet) child. No one tells a napping toddler to work or put the laundry in the dryer. Just once, I’d like to take a two-hour nap in the middle of the afternoon, without anyone interrupting me. Come to think of it, that’s one toddler behavior I could get used to…
3. Spreading the love. Ever find it hard to make friends as an adult? Toddlers don’t have this problem. They go right up to anyone – male or female, young or old, human or otherwise – and offer them a great big hug. It’s a nonstop Summer of Love in Toddlerville (minus the drugs and bell-bottoms). While I’m not longing to hug a total stranger, it would be nice to approach that group of moms at the playground (the ones pretending not to notice my kid licking the see-saw), and ask if I can join them. Actually, a comforting hug might be nice too…
4. Eating everything in sight. If my son had his way, he’d eat nonstop from the moment he awoke until the moment his head hit the mattress. His ability to throw down massive amounts of food without looking like a Sumo wrestler is pretty damn impressive. Just for a day, I’d love to throw caution to the wind and consume with total abandon – without concern for my figure, my self-respect, or the friend whose fries I grabbed when she wasn’t looking. For 24 hours, my motto would be carpe diem – and pass the cheese.
5. World domination. Lately, my toddler’s favorite word is “mine.” Mommy’s hat. “Mine!” Mommy’s food. “Mine!” Mommy’s car. “Mine! Mine! Mine!” He’s convinced that if he sees it, it’s his. I can only imagine what it would be like to claim ownership of something just by looking at it. My neighbor’s car. Mine. That cute shirt at the mall. Mine. All the money in the bank. Mine. Sure, this irrational sense of entitlement might land me in jail – or worse, on YouTube. But, for a day, it would be fun to have anything I wanted, just because I’m me — and, therefore, the center of the universe. Mine!
6. Living on the edge. Whether he’s scaling a table that’s twice his height, or attempting to ride his tricycle backward down a hill, my toddler approaches life like he’s Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stunt double. I, on the other hand, get nervous standing on a chair to reach the holiday decorations. Just once, I’d like to be that fearless – to leap without looking, to explore without fear of consequences. Assuming I survived the day, it would be a life-altering experience.
Yes, the carefree life of a toddler seems rather appealing at times – despite the indignities of diaper changes and baby gates. And while I don’t really want to scream at my waiter or take off with my neighbor’s motorcycle, it might be nice sometimes to worry less about what others think, and more about being true to myself in the moment. Perhaps we can all learn a lesson from these unrestrained little beings. At the very least, we can take a cue from them — put down our work, tune out the world, and take a well-deserved nap.
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