My husband and I were walking up the street with our 18-month-old toddler, Jude. Our original plan was to put Jude in our jogging stroller and push him up the hill, but then the first lesson in parenting toddlers quickly took hold: kids have a mind of their own. Jude did not want to ride in his stroller. He wanted to walk! So, we set out with me pushing the empty stroller because we figured Jude would eventually change his mind and want a ride. I kept getting way ahead of them and having to stop and wait. Jude’s toddler steps, even when his little legs are pumping vigorously, really only cover half the ground of each adult step. And we were right; he did want to get back in his stroller at the top of the hill. So, we had to stop again and settle him before moving on.
Such is life with a toddler. Everything takes longer while you wait for them to feel all the feels. It takes an extra dose of patience to put up with their requests. Leaving the house not only involves packing all of Jude’s stuff, finding a sippy cup, forcing a hat on his head, and getting him to stand still while you put his jacket on; It also involves picking him up and letting him push the garage door opener. He loves to push the button, and every time we walk into the garage he asks to “open door.”
Well, he doesn’t exactly ask. It’s more like whining with a level of persistency that does not allow you to move on with your life until you give in so as not to have to hear it anymore.
The day will come when I can just walk outside. In the meantime, keeping pace with a toddler’s steps is so very worth it. The feeling of his tiny, trusting hand in mine is indescribable. The world is just different with a toddler by your side. It seems like when I’m out with him, everyone else wants to slow down too and go at Jude’s pace. Grocery shopping takes extra time because people love to marvel at him and try to get him to smile. They talk to him and compliment his eyes. They stop and listen, actually really listen, to his toddler babble. He’s a friendly guy and will gladly accommodate them, which just makes them talk even more, and before I know it we’ve spent an hour in the store and all we have to show for it is yogurt and some pretzels.
But you know, that’s OK. It’s good for us. It’s good for all of us. Being around toddlers brings out our generosity, stretches our patience, and creates an eagerness to help in little ways, like opening the door for a mom and baby, which many, many people have done for us. It brings us all together in a way that doesn’t happen when I’m out alone. It reminds us that we were all, at one point, walking at a toddler’s pace and needed someone to hold our hand.