Dressing A Toddler, Whomever She Is Today
Some things we take for granted. Like getting dressed. Unless we are paraplegic, an absolute klutz or have just smoked far too much cabbage, getting dressed is a cinch.
Sure, if you happen to be the winner of the 2004 Imelda Marcos Shoe Collection Trophy, you might have trouble choosing just the right shoe for the occasion. But actually slipping your foot into your selection should be a cinch.
The only time getting dressed should pose a problem is on April Fools Day. Underwear is pretty hard to put on when it is drenched in water. Harder still when it comes straight out of the freezer. And even harder when wrapped around last year's frozen Christmas cake. But that still leaves 364 days of easy dressing.
Some things we just take for granted...until you become a parent.
"No!" Little Lady screams in mock rage.
Just come back here so I can pull up your pants and slip on your shirt.
"No!" the toddle repeats in defiance.
Did you know that there are some things you can do at 30 miles per hour? Putting a shirt on an agile toddler is not one of those things. Around the chair. Over the back of the couch. Under the table. Into the bathroom. SLAM!
Ouch. Make that: into the bathroom door.
Please, Little Lady, let me put on your shirt.
"I'm not Little Lady. I'm Baby Swan."
OK, Baby Swan. Let me put on your shirt.
"You're Papa Baby Swan."
OK. You're Baby Swan. I'm Papa Baby Swan. Just let me put on your shirt.
"Now I'm Tutter."
Tutter is a mouse puppet in a children's show she watches. OK, Tutter, let's put on the Tutter shirt."
"No. You be Tutter."
OK, I'll be Tutter. I'll be whomever you want be to be. Yesterday I was Big Spider. The day before I was Spider Web. I remember being a crocodile, a monkey and a detective. I have no idea who I am anyway, so I might as well be Tutter.
"Are you Tutter?"
We hear a lot about the "terrible twos", but we don't hear much about the identity crisis years. Speaking with mothers down at the play center, it seems many kids go through this phase.
"I saa-aid, are you Tutter?"
You probably did, too. Ask your mother if you ever went through a phase when you were always pretending to be someone else...so much so that you were almost convinced it was real.
It's bad news if your mother's eyes gloss over nostalgically and she answers, "Yes dear, I remember when you were quite convinced you were an African dung beetle."
It's worse news if she adds, "I think the pre-teen years were the hardest. We had no idea how to explain the birds and the bees to a beetle."
But the worst news is if your mother sighs and says, "I remember well. Your father and I are still hoping it's just a phase you're going through."
The best of us go through identity crises now and then. I am The Happy Guy. I am also a writer. And a search engine optimizer. And a husband. And a homeowner. And a father.
But not this morning. This morning I was a very tired and frustrated Tutter mouse puppet...with generously distributed bruises to prove my credentials.
Aw, c'mon, Baby Swan. This is your Tutter speaking. Please come out from under the staircase.
"No. You be Baby Swan."
I suppose that at her age, she can probably get away with going topless. But sooner or later she'll get hungry. And when she comes out to feed, I'll get that shirt on Baby Swan. Or Tutter. Or whomever that toddler is today!
David Leonhardt publishes The Happy Guy humor column:
And A Daily Dose of Happiness: