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Why 1-Year-Olds Are the Worst Ever

Photograph by Getty Images

They talk about the terrible twos and threenagers, and, of course, we all know how bad tweens and teenagers are. But I truly believe 1-year-olds are the worst.

My second son was a happy, chill little guy, content to sit around and smile while other people were doing things. But then, inconveniently, around the age of 12 months, he learned how to crawl and actually start to walk.

Not only was he mobile, he was, as some people put it, “busy”—always that kid who was going to the electrical socket or finding a drink you foolishly left sitting on the floor or, my personal favorite, finding a drawer at his height, opening it, and then leaning on it and smashing his fat little fingers at the same time.

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He was like the Terminator of babies—the second you pulled him away from one near-miss, you were catching him by the head as he happily tried to climb down the stairs. He was on a mission to destroy.

I remembered this age with my older kid: It’s the age that a child realizes he has some effect on you, but can’t talk yet, so the interactions can be exhausting and one-sided. Basically it's a lot of arched backs and time lying the floor just guessing: Are you bored? Hungry? Tired? Just in the mood to put some extra gray hairs on my head for fun?

It was, I decided, my least favorite age. Once you’re out of the “fourth trimester” portion of a baby’s life, babies are fairly simple and, most important, immobile. They stay where you put them. Two years old and up definitely isn’t a walk in the park, but at least they seem to have moved on from “Let’s see if I can find the tiniest toys in the house and put them all in my mouth.”

His face is currently scabbed from the number of stumbles he took this weekend, despite my many attempts to catch him.

But then, a few weeks ago, my husband took our older son on vacation. It would be just me and the Terminator, and I was actually looking forward to it—he's still my baby, and we both milk this for all it’s worth. Every morning before I took him to day care, the baby and I hung out in bed while he read books and periodically crawled up to sit on top of me. Every evening after work, I poured myself a glass of wine and he reveled in having all the toys to himself.

I realized that the baby was not as hard to corral as I thought he would be. It helped, of course, that he was my lone child and I didn’t have the older one to distract me. But I also noticed he was playing more like a little kid—he used the chalk to draw on the chalkboard instead of just eating it, and he pushed a truck around instead of just gnawing on it. We even developed little inside jokes: He does this thing where he slaps my hand, and we’ve decided to call it a “high five”—we think it will really catch on.

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The baby still has his Terminator ways. His face is currently scabbed from the number of stumbles he took this weekend, despite my many attempts to catch him. But he also has games he'll play now, and sentences he understands. Most important, he still sits on me.

So, yeah. One is the age of the drooly, crumb-covered baby hand reaching out to touch your face, both disgusting and adorable at the same time. But maybe when I say that 1 is the worst age, I also mean it's the best age, which is why—despite how bad those 1-year-olds are—we are still there, catching them by their big dumb heads.

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