A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
A little kid with a little knowledge is an absolute nightmare.
I try not to compare my son to other toddlers his age; every kid develops different skills at different times, the comparison game doesn’t get anyone anywhere. I don’t know if he’s figuring things out faster than other kids or whatever, I just know he’s figuring them out faster than I expected him too. And faster than I can handle.
I wrote last week about the ways I’m using his increasing knowledge to my advantage. But there’s a flipside to that coin: he uses those same skills for his own good.
I have no idea if he’s smart, but he’s definitely smart enough to be a major pain in the ass.
His increasing awareness of things – what they do, how they work, where they are, how he can get them – is startling.
In a vacuum, it would be fantastic as I love watching him learn. It’s fascinating to see a child put things together mentally. But we don’t live in a vacuum. We live in an apartment, in close quarters, with danger around every corner. And as his knowledge outpaces both his respect for authority and his understanding of right and wrong, life has become fraught with stress.
Put simply: He aims to misbehave.
Living with a rapidly developing toddler is like interviewing Dr. Lecter. You should be in control – after all, he is behind bars/A FUCKING TODDLER – but everything he does and says feels like manipulation. You just know he’s waiting to spring a trap.
My son is barely 30 inches tall and yet somehow he always has the upper hand.
For one thing, he can talk. He’s not exactly spouting Aaron Sorkin-style monologues, but he can speak well enough that I do occasionally want to throw a drink in his face, particularly when he yells NO! for the fiftieth time in a row. But while his increasing ability to repeat what we say does limit my swear output, the talking is the least of my worries.
Far more troubling than his developing language skills is his ability to understand speech. He understands EVERYTHING WE SAY. It’s terrfying. And it alters your behavior.
We have actually become those people that spell words out to prevent him from catching our drift. But that doesn’t stop him. Far from it. He already knows too much.
He knows where the remote is. He knows where the iPhone is. He knows where his milk is, where the juice is, where his snacks are. He know where EVERYTHING is and he knows how to get it. He also knows he’s not allowed to have the remote or the iPhone or his milk or juice or snacks, not until we say so at least. But he knows how to handle that too.
His tools of manipulation are legion: cuteness, repetition, tantrums and more. There’s a tactic for every goal.
The kid knows DIRECTIONS. I can’t take a piss without a GPS but my son sees the streets like a chessboard. If we even steer the stroller down a street that leads to another street that leads to a path that eventually lands at a playground, it’s over. He knows that playground is there and like a dog with a bone he won’t let go until he reaches it. He’ll ask for it over and over until we give in. Or he’ll throw a tantrum until we succumb. Or he’ll take your hand and pull you towards the playground, or by saying “swings, Daddy” in his adorable, diabolical little toddler voice.
And if those tactics don’t immediately work? He bides his time. Because while their immediate behavior seems to indicate otherwise, toddlers are capable of being patient. When it suits them.
He knows that eventually, one day, his physical abilities will catch up to his mental ones and when they do his parents – those indulgent, unconditionally loving saps – will be powerless to stop him.
All he has to do is wait and eventually he’ll be having
an old friend whatever he wants for dinner.
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