We have been blessed with toddlers in our home for 6 years in a row. Yes, it is all the loud and messy and unpredictable that you imagine it to be when you hear the word, ‘toddler.’ We have had the toys dropped in the toilet, the cat litter sampled, the poop painting, the tantrums in public, the biting, the nap strikes, and the 24/7 teething terrors. I think by this time we qualify for a “we survived” medal of some sort.
One thing that makes these years quite fascinating to me is how this stage is truly human nature in its rawest form. Toddlers don’t have filters. They are impulse driven and egocentric: it’s all about what feels good in the moment. You’re in my way? No worries- I’ll just shove, bite or hit my way through. I didn’t get what I wanted? No worries- I’ll just scream and throw things and kick my legs to show I feel. You have what I want? No worries- I’ll just yank it out of your hands. Toddlers don’t ask; they take. Toddlers don’t recognize personal space; they climb on you, pull on you, trip you up by clinging to your legs. Toddlers don’t preserve things; they figure out the most efficient way to destroy them. Toddlers don’t listen; they try to be the loudest being in the room.
We all have that inner toddler, don’t we? Any semblance of virtue isn’t there naturally. It’s not our virtuous tendencies we worry about, is it? It’s the toddler ones. We never say, “oops! I just spoke without thinking and said too many kind words” or “I just hugged that person without thinking. My bad.” It’s the opposite: “my temper got the better of me again” or “I shouldn’t have slammed the door in anger” or “I was a little too harsh when I shared my feelings.” It might sound funny to read, but we all know the mayhem that we leave in the wake of our toddler rampages.
So, just like toddlers need consistent training and boundaries, we do too. We need to keep coming back to the Bible, seeking out stillness and faithfully surrendering our will to God’s. Amazingly, He never stops loving us in the midst of our tantrums and mess and mishaps. Huh? That sounds familiar. I can’t help but keep adoring my toddlers, hugging them tight, laughing at their craziness and finding them the most beautiful and fascinating little beings in the world- especially when they’re asleep.