A refresher course on toddlers

Apparently I had blocked out about eight years of my life from the recesses of my brain. But a few days with my nephew, Charlie, and all those memories of the eight straight years I spent turning my toddlers into preschoolers came flooding back.

For those of you blessed to have survived this point and, like us, do not remember what it was like, here is a refresher…

Wake up, pull aging toddler out of bed, feed him, change him, chase him, feed him, change him, nap him, feed him, change him, chase him, feed him, bathe him, chase him, put him in bed, repeat.

(For those of you currently living this, know someday you will not remember any of it.)

Luckily, Charlie has matured some since his stint with us last summer. He no longer needs a Christmas carol to take a nap, and he has upgraded from sticking things up people’s noses for kicks and giggles to ramming his rock-hard head into whatever body part is closest to it. He derived great pleasure from watching my husband turn in a panic every time that noggin neared his region just below the belt.

In fact, my husband was such a hit with Charlie this time they were nearly inseparable.

This may have had something to do with our recent stockpile of Girl Scout cookies.

Unbeknownst to my husband, my sister had trained Charlie to refer to granola bars, waffles and dry cereal as “cookies.” Unbeknownst to my sister, my husband would respond to Charlie’s request for cookies with actual cookies, no matter the time of day.

I can only imagine his joy when Uncle D presented him with a trio of Caramel deLites instead of a bowl of dry Cheerios.

He quickly learned to come to Uncle D for nourishment, as Uncle D’s idea of food was far tastier than Aunt Julie’s.

Two boxes disappeared during his four-day visit, and I had no clue why. In spite of the fact that I was the one to clear the toxic waste out of his diaper and clean his bottom every day, and I was the one who entertained him with songs and games and bubble baths, Charlie could not get enough of his uncle.

“He is so nice,” Charlie said of Uncle D while waiting for my sister to pick him up that final day, clearly forgetting the come-to-Jesus Uncle D had had with him over bedtime his first night here.

It wasn’t until the next day that Uncle D let me in on his secret.

“You gave him cookies for breakfast?” I asked in horror, as if I had never served a meal without organic greens and extra fiber.

“It was a matter of survival,” he explained.

Toddlers are not for the weak, and we were out of practice, probably not even remotely qualified for such responsibility anymore. But if the way to a man(child)’s heart is through his stomach, then Uncle D has a place in Charlie’s for life.

— Julie Dunlap can be reached at go@ljworld.com.


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