Ever notice that the qualities that make adults successful and even iconic are often the same ones parents fear the most in toddlers? Think about it…
Civil disobedience – When Gandhi went on a hunger strike, the world watched with admiration and respect. When my 2 year old refuses to eat, admiration and respect are not the words I would use to describe my reaction.
When Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus, it propelled long-overdue change across a struggling nation. We look back on this action as a shining example of courage, steadfastness, and a dedication to justice. When my toddler refuses to sit in the back of the car and instead screams and yells that he wants to sit in the front, I make him get out of the car altogether until he can sit where he’s supposed to.
Independence – When our forefathers declared independence, our new nation celebrated with joy! They told the king “We can do it ourselves!” and we rejoiced. When my 2 year old declares his independence, there is an overwhelming sense of impending doom. The common refrain of “I can do it myself!” is often followed by tears and bellows of “I can’t do it!”
Inquisitiveness – Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin…They all asked why? Why not? How can I make it so? This inquisitiveness and ingenuity lead to some of the most innovative inventions in modern history. When my son asks “why?” I struggle not to simply regurgitate the time-honored response of “because I said so.” A recent conversation held at approximately 3 am went a little something like this:
Son: Is it morning time yet?
Son: Why not?
Me: Because it’s night time.
Me: Because it’s dark outside.
Me: Go the F#*$ to sleep! (Just kidding of course. I didn’t really say that, but it was tempting!)
Strong-mindedness – Perseverance. Tenacity. Being a real ‘go-getter.’ All things that are admirable in adults. Who among us hasn’t touted these qualities in their annual review at work? In toddlers, not so much! When I ask my son why he doesn’t want to do something, like say put on his pajamas, the response is usually “because I don’t want to.” When my husband asks him to stay out of the kitchen while I’m using the oven, my son sheepishly smiles at him over his shoulder as he crosses the threshold into the kitchen. He sees what he wants (i.e. to be in the kitchen) and he goes after it (as I quickly slam the oven shut).
Zest for life – While exuberance and uncensored excitement are some of the qualities that make toddlers the wonderful little people that they are, I will openly admit that on most weekends, by about 4:00 pm on Sunday afternoon, I feel like I’ve been run over by a Mac truck! His energy is contagious, until you’re so tired from chasing him, playing with him, arguing with him, distracting him, and answering “why?” a thousand times a day, that you’re about ready to drop dead! At that point, his energy is no longer contagious. It’s downright deadly.
I guess all I can hope is that I am raising a tiny person who will turn out to be a successful icon.