Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Toddlers, Teenagers -- They're All The Same

The toddler screamed. You know, toddlers scream a lot.

“No,” she wailed, yanking her hand out of mine. “My do it.”

We were crossing the street and when it comes to the street, my wife and I have four rules for our four- and two-year-old, 1) look both ways before going into the street, 2) never go into the street, 3) if crossing the street with Mommy or Daddy, hold one of their hands, and 4) if you violate rules One through Three, you’re shipped to work hard labor in a Siberian logging camp in 1974.

The Girl wanted to violate Rule Three. Not on my watch, chicky-pie.

She screamed again, mainly because I’d tucked her under my arm like a football and, for some reason, she didn’t like it. Toddlers have control problems – if they’re not in control, it’s a problem.

“Just wait until she’s 16,” my wife said, holding the hand of our non-screaming four-year-old son, who had to be enjoying this. “Then we’re really in trouble.

The Girl at 16? Oh, dear Lord. We could already see what was coming. The clothes, the fingernail polish, the Girl still thinking she can cross the street on her own.

“No, no. Put me down. Put me down. Put me down,” the Girl screamed, and screamed, and screamed, and screamed. I could only assume she thought repeating the same thing over and over would work, even though it never does. The Girl unsuccessfully employs this method when asking to watch extra television, get candy, drink coffee, or take the minivan out for a death race with those punks from the Pretty Pony Daycare. Although my wife and I appreciate her tenacity, her success rate is as low as Middle East peace talks.

Yeah, toddlers are teenagers, only shorter.

In a couple of years when the Girl decides to pull up her skirt and chew on the hem during the pre-school Christmas program, it’ll be OK. If it happens in 14 years, our house will get calls from the principal, the pastor, angry parents, and a bunch of teenage boys asking her for a date.

By the way, the answer is no, jerks.

I put the Girl down on the other side of the street and she stopped screaming, squinted at me, stomped down the sidewalk in a huff, and, if she’d had the motor skills to give me The Finger, she just may have done it.

Yep, toddlers are teenagers.

- They both yell, “I’ll get it, I’ll get it,” and sprint through the house whenever the telephone rings.

- They’re both fascinated with cell phones, computers and remote controls, and they both know how to operate these devices better than you.

- Hygiene is only an issue when it’s inconvenient for them.

- TV ranks ahead of Mom and Dad. … So do soft drinks, playing with dust particles in the window, and anything else I care to write.

- A lot of times you can’t understand what they’re saying. With toddlers, it eventually gets better.

- They both love body art. For a toddler, it’s Sharpie-colored fingernails and a Scooby Doo sticker on their shirt. For a teen, it’s a visible “why can’t I get a job?” piercing and a Scooby Doo tattoo on their butt.

- They both want to pick out their own clothes. When a toddler decides to wear a skirt so small her diaper shows, it’s cute. When a teenager wears a skirt so small her panties show, Daddy hemorrhages.

- At some point, they both hate you. Toddlers make up faster because they can’t pour their own milk.

- They both want to make their own mistakes. For a toddler, this is done while discovering the laws of Newtonian physics – like gravity. For a teen, it’s going to the wrong kind of party, being on Facebook instead of studying, or going to a college Daddy hates and for which he won’t pay a penny of tuition.

Yep, I’m already thinking about that. Keep it in mind that the next time we cross the street.

Copyright 2009 by Jason Offutt

You can order Jason’s books on the paranormal, “Darkness Walks: The Shadow People Among Us,” and “Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to Missouri’s Most Spirited Spots,” at amazon.com.


Russ Crick said...

The amazing part is that those who knew you in college would never have guessed that you'd even have kids!
Here are a few phrases from your college days at Yeater Hall that should take you back a bit:
"Sick dead bi*ch"
"Michelobe Dark Farts" (I hear that certain dorm rooms still have a faint funk to them.)
"Dead Kennedy's"
"Dead Milkmen"

Glad to hear that you are doing well.

Russ Crick

Jason Offutt said...


I just wrote an e-mail to you, then realized I don't have your e-mail address, so it's just sitting there being very lonely. Send your e-mail address to me at jasonoffutt@hotmail.com.

Great to hear from you.


Anonymous said...


I'm a little surprised that you remember me after all these years. Then again, I'm suprised that you remember most anything from those years!