When You Lie to the Toddler, Don’t Take Pictures
AJ had a push walker when he was a baby. He started walking on his own at 10 months, and shortly thereafter, he lost interest and we put it in the attic to reduce toy clutter.
Fast forward two years. AJ has a 9 month old brother, JC, who is just about cruising. So I retrieved the walker from the attic. As I brought it into my room and put it in front of the baby, AJ zinged across the room, attracted to the bright colors and wheels (what is it with toddlers and things on wheels…?) like a bee to a flower, a moth to a flame, his mommy to Taco Bell.
AJ: Ooooh, what’s that?
Me: That’s for JC, to help him practice walking.
AJ: (very calmly) No, that AJ’s.
Me: No, it’s for JC. It’s a special toy for learning how to walk. But you can share it with him.
AJ: (still very calm, but slightly more insistent) It AJ’s.
Me: No, honey, it’s not, but you can have a turn if you like.
And that was that. AJ opened each of the compartment’s covers, looked inside for any hidden treasures, and then wandered off into his room without another word.
I watched JC play with the walker for a minute or two. It’s nice, sturdy, weighted wood; a little tougher to push than a plastic walker, but definitely more stable. Mostly, he tried to climb it, and when that stopped being fun, pull it down on top of himself. Because that’s what my child does with heavy objects.
Then, from AJ’s room…
Me: What book?
AJ: The blue one!
Me: Which blue one?
AJ: Up there!
Ahhh, the magic words. It was toddler-speak for “I couldn’t reach it or climb high enough to get it, but if you don’t arrive in the next one-point-eight seconds, I’ll try again, most likely stacking things with wheels or made of cardboard in a tottering-tower-of-Pisa-like climbing structure, so move your ass, Mom, because we’re burning daylight here.”
I got to his room and he was pointing to a photo album on his desk shelf. I must have absentmindedly put it up there while straightening his room, because that’s one of my personal child-proofing guidelines: don’t put anything that your little Lewis or Clark will want in sight but out of reach; he’ll see it as an engraved invitation to explore the heights, and conquer Mount Bookshelf. And if that means stacking a dump truck on Tickle-Me-Elmo on a pillow on a rocking chair to get to it…well, a toddler’s gotta do what a toddler’s gotta do.
So, I got it for him and returned to baby JC and the walker. Which would make a great band name, dontcha’ think? AJ came into my room behind me, sat down with the photo album, and proceeded to flip rapidly through the book without looking at the pages.
He got about three-quarters of the way through and started to slow down. He flipped a couple more pages, scanning as he went, stopped, and brought me the album. He pointed to a picture of himself at about 9 or 10 months old.
AJ: Look mommy, AJ’s!
What the..? Oh, crap.
The toddler called bullsh*t on me, and the toddler was right.
So, I guess the moral of the story is, don’t lie to the toddler when there is photographic evidence to the contrary. Especially when it comes to toys. You will be schooled.