Yes, they drive you crazy…then you love them…then they drive you crazy again.
Living with a toddler is like living with a pinball crossed with an energizer bunny trapped inside a fireball that then turns into a squishy marshmallow.
A day is incomplete without giggles, tears, incessant questions, frustration, scratches, bumps, fervent cuddles (or "huggles" as they're known in our house), and surprises.
There is so much to love about the little people in our lives.
1. They help you slow down
I was hurrying my toddler to our destination when she suddenly shrieked, "Mummy! Look!" She crouched down, pointed and whispered, "a caterpillar…"
"Yes!" I replied with just the right amount of enthusiasm before moving on. She wouldn't budge.
As we watched the caterpillar cross the footpath, I realised we weren't actually in a hurry. So we discussed the legs and dreamed up where it might be going and what it might eat for lunch.
2. They're so brave!
I saved my toddler's life 27 times yesterday. I prevented her from getting hurt another 15.
She jumped into the pool and clawed my hands away in frustration when I brought her up for air. She tried to run down the slide. She leapt for the monkey bars.
It scared me silly but it's an innocence that doesn't last for long enough.
3. Their exponential grasp of language ...
New words appear every day and often I don't even remember saying them.
Words expand to sentences faster than I can answer, "what's that, Mummy?"
She uses appropriate context, tone and intonation. Prepositions are correct and adverbs and adjectives are added daily.
I love having conversations with my toddler. Will I love the "why" phase as much?
4. … and their own language
One of my daughter's favourite words is "doo-ba-dah", which means, "water bottle". I have no idea where it came from and it's stuck.
We pass refrigerated waters at the supermarket and she screams, "COLD DOO-BA-DAH!". We sing songs about "doo-ba-dah", spend much of the day searching for our doo-ba-dahs and lining them up.
"Look at all the doo-ba-dahs!" I can't bring myself to correct her.
5. They help you improve your skills in negotiation
If you…(insert anything you want them to do)…then I'll give you…(anything you think they'll want)…
This bribery works a dream until it doesn't. Then it's time to adjust expectations and alter rewards.
I'm not really sure I can call it negotiation when any offer I put to the table is met with a firm and final, "no!"
6. They don't hold a grudge
"Mummy, I want to watch TV."
"No! I want to watch TV now!"
But once the kicking, screaming and head-banging subsides, all she wants is a marathon cuddle with me; the one who ignited the tantrum.
7. They are true fashionistas
Sparkly blue fairy dress to the shops? Why not! Green chiffon dress to the park? Couldn't think of a more appropriate outfit! Pink t-shirt, orange skirt and red shoes?
Clashin' is fashion! Her face glows and she reminds us all that she is, "so cute!"
8. Their excitement
Things that have excited my toddler this week: the red man turning green at the traffic lights, finding strawberries in the fridge, a pink balloon, finally managing to kiss my eye (after weeks of failed attempts), lolly bananas, marshmallows on her babycino and running circles around her baby brother.
I love how it really doesn't take much to make her day.
9. They make friends so easily
"Hello, what's your name?"
Within minutes they're sharing (and snatching) toys from one another. They chase each other, scream and laugh.
There are no inhibitions – at that age it's not hard to find a common ground and play is the best icebreaker. I wish it was this easy as adults.
10. Their determination
"No! I will do it!" is a phrase of the moment.
Screwing lids on bottles always ends in major spills, cleaning her own teeth always ends in toothpaste everywhere and not very clean teeth, dressing herself always ends in limbs through random holes.
But she is determined to perfect the skill and I love the look of concentration.
Yes, the twos can be terrible and I hear threenagers are even worse…but I delight in seeing the world through a toddler's eyes, I'm astounded by their grasp of the world and I love being the mum of a toddler.