The other day, my wife asked me why I had put her keys under the couch.
Obviously, I had not done that. My toddler had.
This must be what it’s like to have a ghost.
My son is a long way from being independent. But he’s made major strides, and at two and a half years old, he’s a totally different entity than he was for the first two years of his life.
I remember writing this post about how annoying it was that my kid couldn’t do a single thing by himself. That was a long time ago, in kid years.
In a general, “real world” sense, he still can’t do a lot on his own. He’s not going to be driving himself to daycare, fixing his own lunch, or even going to the bathroom without my help, anytime soon. But he can finally be trusted to play alone for a few minutes, and Mom and Buried and I can afford to let our guards down and leave him unattended in the other room for small pockets of time. Suddenly, we don’t need to wait for his nap time to have a little time to ourselves.
Of course, like every other stage of a kid’s development, his increasing independence is a double-edged sword, and it’s taking some real getting used to. Once your kid can walk around and reach things and do things on his own, you go from housing a pet to having a roommate. Suddenly there’s a third person to consider when someone leaves food on the floor, or someone spills water on the couch, or someone misplaces your wallet, or someone farts. It’s kind of scary.
Objects that were out of a baby’s reach are fair game to your toddler. Actions that were too complex for an 18-month-old are shockingly simple for a 30-month-old to accomplish. If this is your first child, you may find yourself assuming he doesn’t understand some things just because he’s two. But you’re quickly disabused of such ignorant notions of toddler intelligence when you witness your son opening the DVD player, replacing the disc, and throwing his Curious George movie on. My wife can’t even do that!
The transition is so gradual that it seems abrupt; you almost don’t notice it happening until one day you turn around and one day there’s an actual mini-human being in your house.
What makes it even more difficult is the fact that this person is not normal in any sense of the word. Toddlers don’t have a lot of accountability. You can’t have an intervention with your two-year-old to get him to stop leaving his dirty dishes on the table, or to get him to pick up his stuffed animals, or put his socks in the hamper, or not piss on the floor. He can do a bunch of stuff but he can’t do a bunch of other stuff, like understand why he shouldn’t do that first stuff.
Raising a little kid is kind of like being haunted. You’ve been dealing with this presence for a while, but at first it’s just kind of there, being a little disruptive but mostly harmless; occasionally misplacing things or waking you in the middle of the night with a strange noise or strange smell. Then, eventually, things start to escalate until, suddenly, your house is a mess, everyone is screaming and you’re slowly going insane.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to escape this haunted house. You have to wait for the ghost to move out.