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The Age of Destruction

Everyone talks about how exhausting the first few months of motherhood are. The baby won’t sleep. Newborns need constant attention. There are late-night feedings and cry fests that last for hours to contend with. Without a doubt, those first months are hard.

But as my daughter nears the one-year mark, I am starting to realize that the toddler years may actually be more arduous. (See above for evidence.)

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This kid is a captain of destruction. I swear, I follow her around from one disaster to the next. I always believed I would be the kind of parent who allowed my child to, more or less, have the freedom to roam and explore her surroundings. Never would I confine her to a corner or stick her in an exersaucer simply to buy myself 15 minutes on the computer. I wanted my baby to feel safe investigating her world, and I prided myself on how encouraging I would be in that endeavor, allowing her learn and grow with that freedom.

Of course, that freedom comes at a cost.

Everything at toddler level is, of course, baby-friendly. But that doesn’t prevent her from finding things to destroy. Put a piece of paper in this kid's path and she will tear it up and eat half of it. Give her a drawer to open, and she will have the contents spread throughout the house in a matter of minutes. And let’s not even talk about how she somehow left a bite-size void at the toe of one of my flip-flops.

The Captain of Destruction sees no reason to slow down.

It all started with towers. I would build them, she would knock them down. It was a fun little game ... until it expanded to everything else. I clean up one mess, and she moves on to making the next. Entire days are now spent with me chasing her from one pile to the next. Her latest favorite? My purse. She tears into that thing and scatters the items from within. More than once now, I have walked around a corner to find her making it rain with the contents of my wallet.

She somehow strips the sheets off my bed when I am not looking.

She manages to spread entire meals across the floor immediately after I have mopped.

She delights in pulling all the magnets off the fridge.

Her spill-proof cups? She has figured out how to manipulate them into spilling.

I bought her a foam alphabet play mat, and now she commits a bit of time every single day to tearing the thing entirely apart and eating the individual letters.

She literally head butts me when I am attempting to do anything besides pay attention to her. All fours, full-speed ahead, head butts into the calves.

If there is something with a lid on it, she finds a way to take it off. And if there is a shelf piled high with books, it takes her mere seconds to empty it.

I can’t sit still. I can’t relax. I can’t look away for a single moment, because she will probably find a way to scale the kitchen counter and start throwing dishes on the floor. The Captain of Destruction sees no reason to slow down.

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But just as I was about to throw my hands up in the air and toss her into the exersaucer, I caught her doing something pretty incredible. Sitting silently for just a second, she placed one block on top of the other in the clumsy way only a toddler could do, building her own tower for once, instead of destroying it.

Of course, 30 seconds later she knocked the entire thing down and laughed maniacally like a psych ward patient, but before that—I saw it.

A glimpse at the thoughtful and intelligent little person my girl is going to grow to be.

As soon as she gets past this destructive phase, that is.

But that’s bound to happen any day now, right?

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