He beelines for the place where the hose was dripping and swishes his hand through the muddy water before slowly, contemplatively bringing his fingers to his mouth. Shooed from his dirt-eating, he scampers across the yard and before I can blink he’s reaching for a dog turd, his tiny brow furrowed in concentration.

We dress him in toddler-sized swim trunks and he joyously climbs the tiny built-in slide in the plastic play pool before his feet shoot out from under him and his body somehow goes completely horizontal in midair and he bangs his head with a sickening crash and there are screams and tears and cuddles and two seconds later, he’s climbing that fucking slide again.

No, Dylan, I say as he tries to escape with his father’s computer mouse. “WAHHHH!” he responds, and runs at top speed to the bookshelf and begins pulling books off the shelves, one after another. Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.

He creeps along the patio after a trundling black ant and carefully reaches out a pudgy index finger and accidentally smooshes it. He stares, nearly cross-eyed, and his finger is almost on his tongue when I swoop in. I reposition him and he howls with fury and locks his eyes on mine and reaches down and with vengeful, deliberate motions he quickly stuffs a passing tumbleweed of dog hair IN HIS MOUTH.

I’m bent over the dishwasher collecting forks and spoons when SMACK! something slaps me directly across the ass. I turn, and he’s standing there with a mile-wide grin, laughing so hard he’s swaying back and forth. In his hands is a large plastic spatula.

There is a long silence and even though I know better I revel in it a bit and when I finally go to look for him, I find him shoulder-deep in the toilet bowl. He’s so startled when I burst through the door he falls backwards onto his butt, then sits there smiling at me and starts chomping on his toilet-water-soaked fingers.

He falls off the front steps. The back porch. The raised portion of our backyard garden bed. A chair. Another chair. The wooden steps at the cabin in Oregon. The curb of the driveway. The sofa.

I catch him. I don’t. I let him fall. I run to save him at top speed. I absorb the impact of his skull heading earthward with the top of my foot. I watch him, wincing. I watch him, clapping.

He grunts his way onto the couch, then gets himself turned around, spreads his arms and sort of half-jumps, half-falls off, but not before saying, “De inny! An bee!” I goggle open mouthed as I realize he’s imitating his Buzz Lightyear-loving brother: to infinity, and beyond.

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Marion
Marion
12 years ago

What a wonderful post, perfectly capturing the essence of a toddler – all chaos and giggles and terror at the same time.

Save this one for the book(s) please!

Renee
Renee
12 years ago

toddlers bounce, right?

Pete
Pete
12 years ago

Been there, done that, don’t ever want to do it again. :-)

MommyGeek
12 years ago

Yes. Exactly like that. Except in pink.

teralyne
teralyne
12 years ago

OMG too cute and so like my 17 mos old grandson. That was writen well.

Melissa
Melissa
12 years ago

Thank you! This is exactly my life. reasons why naptime/bedtime are SO IMPORTANT!

EB
EB
12 years ago

I just found out a week ago I am pregnant for the first time. Your posts scare me. A lot.

Maria
12 years ago

Oh god cute.

jonniker
12 years ago

Aw, EB, don’t be scared. What she’s describing sounds scary, as what I describe, but believe me, it’s hard hard hard, but also? FUN. Promise.

GingerB
12 years ago

Perfect post! Totally cracked me up, as I am in-between the whack mommy’s butt ages right now, so I can afford to laugh. For now.

Courtney
12 years ago

All I can wonder is how is Riley holding up?

Melissa D.
Melissa D.
12 years ago

Awesome. You just described my son except swap out the ant for a dead worm. And silence always means in the toliet bowl or that someone forgot to put the gate up and there is a toddler halfway up the stairs. Beautifully, perfectly written.

GinaG
12 years ago

Awesome and oh so true. My youngest has recently discovered that he can climb fences…oh JOY!
Little boys are made from snips and snails and rubber and puppy dog tails….

Hillary
12 years ago

The ending is PRICELESS.
I’ve given up tracking The Boy’s bruises.

Maxine Dangerous
12 years ago

Annnnnnnd now I want to watch Toy Story again. ;)

Keri
12 years ago

Mine’s 15 months and you sum it up perfectly.

Kona
12 years ago

Dear Christ. Mine is going to be 10 months old on Wednesday, and we’re just getting to the “pulling shit off the bookshelf” phase, also known as the “hey, why don’t I shove a fistful of dog food into my maw and choke on it and drool out meat by-products for the next hour” phase.

I’m scared.

Cookie
12 years ago

Oh how cute! I love the ending. Nick is always imitating Gabe. This is exactly it. This is exactly what it feels like to live with a toddler. You are a fantastic writer, and when you finish that book, it will totally rock.

heather
heather
12 years ago

this is funny and cute, but oh my god i’m so happy that i’m not having children.

Amanda
12 years ago

Sweet boy… even though his breath probably smells like toilet water and dog crap which, ew. But sweet, sweet boy.

Bianca
Bianca
12 years ago

My niece is almost two and is in a climbing stage. She drags anything-she-can over to whatever-she-feels like and proceeds to climb.

Mostly she just wants to find a high area where she can dance (we’ve already dubbed her the Toddler Table-dancer) but my sister still panics whenever there’s a silence longer than about 30 secs. in her house.

Amy
Amy
12 years ago

I can’t wait until you write a book. Really. I love your writing.

samantha jo campen
12 years ago

Thank God it’s not just us over here.

They WILL grow up with skin on their knees right? Please tell me they do.

warcrygirl
12 years ago

I absolutely love how you can catch the essence of a toddler so succinctly. As for the falling; I was convinced I was going to have to send The Captain to school wrapped in bubble wrap.

Heather
Heather
12 years ago

OMG – exactly like my 17mo daughter. Especially the dog turd. Except I didn’t make it in time.

Serenity Now
12 years ago

We must have the same kid…dog hair and all!

TUWABVB
12 years ago

What a beautiful post – this makes me want a baby so badly, and makes me pee my pants at the same time at the thought. But hey, at least he keeps the dog hair off the floor, right?

Bekki
Bekki
12 years ago

My two nine month olds are always planning escapes out of whatver room they happened to be trapped in. They crawl to the the top of the tallest thing they can get their hands on–and then fall off like it’s nothing. They sit on top of each other, and pull ears and poke eyes.

And you’re telling me it gets worse? Oy vey, I need to invest in some Mike Meyeres/Hyper-Hypo Kid style restraints.

-R-
-R-
12 years ago

Kids are so fun to watch, yet so gross, yet also kind of awe-inspiring too.

Bekki’s comment above about Hyper-Hypo Kid style restraints is awesome.

theGoriWife
12 years ago

Mine also does the Toy Story quotes, but somehow his “and beyond” always sounds like “UP YOURS!”

I laugh every time. I don’t correct him either.

Sarah
12 years ago

Wow. Apparently my twenty three month old has stayed stuck in the seventeen month stage for quite a while, ’cause that’s pretty much how our days go, too. Here’s hoping age two brings newfound maturity and sudden aversion to germs.

Angie
12 years ago

Totally describes my 18 month old, except for any verbal part. Great post.

Victoria
12 years ago

Dee Inny. An BEE!

You’re a wonderful writer and that’s my new favourite saying.

thatgirlblogs
12 years ago

oh, my toddler recently took a header off the toilet.

the things that dreams are made of…

at least the way YOU write about them!

Haitian American Family of Three

There is no resting at 2.5 either.

In fact I think the days of resting for anybody are over for the next ten years or so.

Katherine
12 years ago

And yet most of them make it into adulthood…

The Mother Tongue
12 years ago

omg, that sounds pretty much like my entire day with my 22-month-old, right there. Except she ruined the upholstery on her rocker/glider with the lipstick I accidentally left in her room.

Hang in there.

danielle
danielle
12 years ago

That sounds exactly like my daughter! Except add a strange kitten obsession in the mix and stir.

I wonder are the second ones that much harder or is it that we’re twice as busy?

babelbabe
12 years ago

nice to know I don’t have the only suicidal toddler.

Heather
12 years ago

Good Lord I am shamed to think I could ever write when you throw down with your writing prowess. Gah.

Plus. With 12 month old boy I am just beginning to see this suicidal tendency. My daughter was much more self preserving…

Jean
Jean
12 years ago

My first son – just about perfect. My second son – if he’d been first, he’d have been last. The last time I took him to T@rget before he had his learners permit (he was about 3), I had him in the cart with a 9 pack of toilet paper and a big can of bug spray, along with other assorted items. He was so quiet and GOOD! For the love of gawd, I should have known something was up. By the time I got to the check out, I discovered he’d poked a pretty good sized hole in the wrapping on the TP and proceeded to empty the entire can of bug spray into package. The 16 year old gave me a look and said “you still want this stuff, right?”. “Of course”, I said.

He didn’t enter another store with me for YEARS people, YEARS.

Cara
Cara
12 years ago

Shit, my 4 year old is still doing that stuff! Only now he’s roped his 2.5 year old sister into the act. I swear it’s a race to see who wins a trip to the emergency room first!

bessie.viola
12 years ago

My God, this is a flawless portrait of the insanity that is 17 months. You put this perfectly.

Cannot wait for that book.

Andrea
12 years ago

She toddles to the top of the steps and looks down, watching my face for the mix of horror, fear, and determination as I imagine the possibilities and decide to head them off. Her pudgy hand grasps the spindle of the stair rail and she leans way forward, her foot-ham reaching out in midair and looking for purchase on the floor that suddenly isn’t there. She wobbles, steps with all her trust in her own invincibility, and navigates the step without falling. Her face is beatific, triumphant, and she reaches out to do it again. I’m faced with a choice — do I grab her and carry her down or do I let her try so she can learn, practice, and one day go down the stairs on her own two feet with confidence? I decide to act as a pillow, a buffer between her and certain falling; my arms reach out to beckon her on and catch her if she tumbles, and she tries, successfully marching down the steps as only an 18 month old can. She is giddy, larger than life, and I am a puddly mess even as I clap and hoot and holler my appreciation for the feat of her accomplishment.

She stands precariously in the tub, one foot on the lip, threatening to climb out if I instruct her to sit down one. more. time. She is angry, soap nearly in her eyes and I can just see it, her setting one slippery foot on the floor and while she’s still off balance climbing out, that foot slides out from under her and she cracks her head on the nearby toilet. I stop her, and she howls, red faced and pissed off. She squats and I think she’s finally going to listen to me, but then I realized belatedly what she’s doing. I rush to let the water out and get the myriad of toys from the tub before they can be contaminated as she lands a giant turd into the tub and then defiantly stares into my face. “You won’t let me out? Take that, bitch!” Sighing, I send her brother on his fiftieth errand for wet wipes and turn to get the disinfectant from under the sink. When I turn back, she’s painting with the poop. Great.

What the hell do the teenage years hold if she does this kind of thing to get back at me?

Eric's Mommy
12 years ago

So very cute. Brings back memories!

Kate
12 years ago

This actually makes me very excited for our little boy to enter the toddler stage. I’ll probably be shaking my head at myself in a few months, but for now, I look forward to it.

LJ
LJ
12 years ago

Great post! As I was reading I was reminiscing when my son was small. After fall, after fall, after fall, my MIL said you need to get that boy’s head x-rayed and make sure nothing is wrong. He’s 16 now. Nothing’s wrong……

steff
steff
12 years ago

wow – that was awesome!!

pam
pam
12 years ago

love. :)

and i’m beginning to think my boys are pansies compared to dylan. heh.

Kate
12 years ago

Wonderful Linda. And absolutely spot-on. :)

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