We have a toddler in the house again. It’s been a long time and I’ve forgotten just how much fun they can be. Or maybe I haven’t. Our oldest child was such an exhausting toddler that I what I remember most about him was that I just tried to keep up. Then I was further exhausted by being pregnant with his sister and a move from California to Maryland. Our next child was a very easy toddler, sweet, happy and compliant. I was still trying to keep up with her older brother, so I don’t remember many specific things about her toddlerhood. Now with the unintented gap between Bip, our current toddler and Pumpkin, who is now 6, we have the chance to really enjoy a toddler.
And enjoy him we do. His main flaw is how poorly he sleeps at night, but he is such a joy in the morning that he is quickly forgiven. He is so silly, siller than any of our other children and that is saying quite a bit! I once caught him stuffing french fries into his shirt and I asked him, “Bip! Are you stuffing fries in your shirt?” and without missing a beat, nor taking his eyes off of me, began removing the fries. All very innocently, mind you.
I particularly enjoy watching him learning new words. The poor little thing has been terribly confused by the Sandra Boyton book “Moo, Baa, LaLaLa.” He thinks both pigs and sheep say LaLaLa. Oh well. His clearest words reflect those things he loves most – Mama, choo-choo, car-car and Bob. Some people reading my blog will find that terribly amusing, but it’s not what they think! The rest of you will just have to wonder what I mean because I’m not telling. Don’t bother emailing me and begging me to tell you privately. I will turn a deaf ear, or a blind eye as it were, to your pleas. The real explanation is simply that Bip loves Bob the Builder. And Thomas the Tank engine. He is all boy! Whether it’s throwing balls and yelling Ball! or walking around the house holding a car in one hand a Mickey Mouse in the other, he is everything you’d expect a boy to be. He can already “hike” a baby-size football and seeing that he’s our largest baby yet, I am sure he is destined for a Notre Dame football scholarship.
Being the youngest of four children, Bip is into things much earlier than the others were. It’s not uncommon when peering into the refrigerator to be pushed out of the way by a little but strong body who has come in search of a snack. He loves to spend time outside and if he catches even a hint that somebody is heading out of the house, he goes in search of his Mickey Mouse crocs.
One of our favorites times is nighttime prayers. Pumpkin taught Bip to fold his hands while we pray. When each one of us has had the chance to pray, we ask Bip if there’s anything he’d like to thank God for. He starts off, “Mama, Da-da, Boo…” Then we have to help him with Pumpkin Girl’s real name. The children like to say his favorite things for him to repeat after them, both because it’s cute to hear him saying his toddler words and because it’s nice to have him praying with us. “Car-cars, quack-quack, ball, Bob, choo-choo, and juice” are all on his nightly list of things he is thankful for.
Having a toddler in the house makes for some interesting juggling during school. One of Big Brother Boo’s morning chores is to prepare a snack for Bip to keep him quiet for as long as possible. We often have to deviate from my nice, neat school “schedule” to accomodate Bip. Sometimes he wants to nurse and one of the other children holds the book while I read aloud, other times we have to skip ahead to their read-aloud time. Most days I can corral him in his high-chair during seat work time. While the rest of us work at the dining room table, Bip happily pulls child-safe kitchen gadgets off my bakers rack while eating raisins. On days he’s not interested…well, let’s just say that I have quite a lot of picking up to do at lunch time. I used to let Bip’s interruptions upset me. I even seriously considered sending him off to child care in the morning. Boo and Pumpkin Girl were so sad at the thought that I changed my attitude. I had to remember that one of the major advantages of homeschooling is having the children being an integral part of each other’s life. Not that it’s easy! But we try to remember how much joy that Bip truly brings us every day. We were deprived of Becca’s toddler years, of teaching her how to walk and talk and sing. Some days I am overwhelmed with both regret over Becca and joy over Bip. So many things I wished I could have done with her, that now I must focus on enjoying the time with Bip.
A toddler in the house means
- carrying 2 toy trains and 2 toy cars in my bag at all times, in case Bip encounters a transportation emergency while we are away from the house.
- vaccuming and sweeping twice daily.
- getting soaked head to toe and not being the one having the bath.
- adding 10 minutes to your time it takes to get everyone out of the house
- watching in amazement at chubby little hands folded during prayers
- sweet, wet kisses
- fat, happy legs running to meet daddy when he comes home
- reading Goodnight Moon “one last time, then all done”…four times
- finding toys in unusual places
We have been truly blessed to have a toddler in the house.