Parenting and the Unfair Perception of Childhood Behavior

I have two children. Both are girls, however the differences between them are undeniable. With my first born, Lola, I could take her and shop for hours on end and she stayed in tow, cake pop in hand, like a champ. She had her first 7 hour plane ride at just 4 1/2 months and soothed the nerves of the once irritated observing passengers on board like aromatherapy candles at a day spa. Phoenix, on the other hand, wants no part of this whole being cooperative in public thing and we wouldn’t dare take her on a plane ride, even if it were just from SJC to LAX, despite my intent to go to Hawaii before she turns two. I wanted to cash in on that whole kids ride free before 2 deal, but nope. Not happening. I already know how that story plays out and while she sounds awful, I have to give her a lot of credit. She, like so many toddlers, are fussy and undeterred by the frowns around them, but that’s what’s so genuine about her. About them. They are the most true versions of themselves that they likely will ever be in their entire lives and we adults can learn from these amazing little humans.

We recently took a mini vacation to Las Vegas, yep, we did the whole family Vegas Vacation thing and of course we drove because I am aware of how she might behave and what might happen if she does what toddlers sometimes do. People get kicked off of planes these days for wearing yoga pants…imagine an angry toddler and a nearby “Permit Patty” type. Oh God! Seriously though, I was totally irritated by a lot of the people encountered on our trip. Some were super cool, saying how cute and independent she was, but we also got the opposite. Phoenix is Miss Independent and is at that age where she wants to walk on her own, sit in the booth at restaurants and feed herself while she’s at it. There were times where we’d try to help and she’d get vocal and let us know that she’s got this and doesn’t need our help, but the people sitting nearby would look at her like they’d never seen a toddler before in their lives. Like, what generation did you grow up in where toddlers, I’m talking 18 months, gave a shit about the face you gave them at that age? I don’t care how old school you are, toddlers will be toddlers until their emotion called “fear” shows up and it hasn’t yet for Phoenix. It’s like these people only have fur babies in their lives because the side “oh my God!” comments were in full swing. Really, though? Don’t look at us like we’re bad parents, like we allow our kids to just run a muck when and where they want to. If you saw my first child when she was this age, you’d want to put us on a pedestal and give us an award. Literally night and day. Lola was the easiest, most well behaved child. Intelligent far beyond her age. I could show you videos of her having a full on conversation, assessing future events and questioning your presence, the day she turned two or counting to ten at just 18 months in perfectly clear diction. She was so easy. Not even we could believe it.

The truth is that kids are kids and toddlers literally don’t give a shit what you think. That’s pretty damn admirable, if you ask me. While it might get uncomfortable for me at times, mostly because I’d like to turn to someone and ask politely, of course, if they have a f***ing problem, but it would be nice if society wouldn’t be so uptight an actually appreciated toddlers for what and who they are. They are undeniably incredible. Learning literally everything at lightning speeds, trying things they’ve never even thought of trying before because they don’t even know what things are, let alone that there are consequences to their actions. They literally just go for it without a worry in sight. There is no preliminary or after thought when they make a first attempt. It’s 100% impulse. Don’t you sometimes wish you could live ever so freely? I am 100% a worrier. I want to be able to plan everything and the unknown is utterly terrifying to me, but I truly wish that I could take a page from the toddler handbook and just let shit go sometimes. I might have one less wrinkle or pimple in my future face and that would be appreciated by many, I just know it.

Joking aside, I think people look at children and their behavior all wrong. Perceptions are so muddied by what society says is acceptable and I am by no means immune to that because I obviously try to prevent her outbursts because I know that others might be bothered and while I do think kids need to be taught right from wrong, yelling and spanking a toddler into fearing you probably isn’t the right answer. I’d much rather have a few angry eyes on me than a child that’s afraid of her mom and dad. It’s ok to piss people off sometimes. Maybe they will reflect on it later and realize that life isn’t so fun when you’re always looking for something to complain about, especially a cute, innocent toddler just trying her hardest to learn the skills that we all take for granted. My girls are amazing in their own individual ways, not one being better than the other, but one more accepted than the other by watchful eyes. Things change though. One smile from a very determined and fearless little girl might get people to smile back and that’s a start.

Cheers to raising great tiny humans!

-Trisha

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