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Toddler Talk: It’s not easy being me

It ain’t easy being a toddler. It’s like you’ve been entered against your will in a crash course of ‘How to be Human’. In the space of three years, you’ve got to master this walking-running-jumping-climbing thing; you’ve got to learn all these random words, and then connect them in such a way that mommy knows what you want; you’ve got to learn to use this alien thing called the potty which, for reasons you can’t fathom, the adults in your life are fixated on.

Then there are all those other skills you’re expected to pick up on the fly — putting on oddly shaped underwear, dresses and shoes, eating food with strange cutlery and drinking milk and juice from cups (rather than blissfully sucking from a bottle), and (shudder) sharing with friends. As if that wasn’t enough, adults are constantly going on about silly things such as ABCs, 123s, shapes and colours and asking you questions about them (yes, A is for apple, but you already knew that, didn’t you, ma?). And let’s not forget the highly stressful (and sometimes scary) process of getting acquainted with the strange things that populate the world, including ticking clocks, moving shadows, barking dogs, roaring motorcycles, and toys that suddenly start moving when you least expect it.

It doesn’t help that you’re constantly getting mixed signals from the grown-ups in your life. One moment they’re telling you that ‘you’re a big girl’ and that you should eat/dress/play by yourself. Then the next minute they’re telling you you’re ‘too small’ to play with scissors/knives or drink coffee (seriously, make up your minds, guys!) You’re told you’re ‘too big’ to be carried all around the mall or airport, but then suddenly you’re ‘too little’ to be ‘running off by yourself’ down the escalator, and have to hold a grown-up’s hand at all times. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that they’re being totally inconsistent, and that they wouldn’t be all worked up now if they’d just listened in the first place and carried you like you told them to.

They’re totally unreasonable in other ways too. They just giveth and then randomly taketh away, and expect you to be fine with it. When you’re little, they force you to wear nappies and diapers, no matter how hard you flail and kick (you were not able to run away at that point, sadly, but you did make up for that later). Then just when you’re sort of cool with it, they decide that nope, no more diapers for you! Only that darned plastic bowl they call the potty. They give you feeding bottles to drink from day and night from the time you were born, and then suddenly, one fine day, poof! They’re gone, and sippy cups and straw-cups have appeared in their place. No one even checked with you, and what, you’re just supposed to take this lying down?

It’s not like they’re cool with it when you change things around. No, they get all pissed off when you decide you no longer like the noodles you loved yesterday (a girl can change her mind!), or when you decide that you no longer want to bathe. Ever. They cheer when you draw in your colouring book, but you decide to brighten up amma’s boring white sari with the same crayons, and they get all huffy about it. You see? Mixed signals, all the time.

You’re dealing with so much stuff, and the adults around you just don’t seem to get it. They say you’re fussy. They claim you throw tantrums. But all you’re trying to do is tell them exactly what you want, loud and clear. The truth is that adults can dish it out — be unreasonable, inconsistent and cranky as heck — but can’t take it. They wouldn’t last a day in your shoes (and not just because it’s tiny, pink and squeaky). It’s a tough, tough toddler life.


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Printable version | Oct 28, 2021 8:45:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/toddler-talk-its-not-easy-being-me/article6716431.ece

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