I've raised two toddlers—a boy and a girl—and I'm in the midst of raising another son who's three. That means that for the last eight years, I've almost always had a tyrannical tot on my hands. That's a lot of years spent running through the mad gauntlet of the toddler years. And a lot of years to mull over what I've now decided is a toddler truth.
Now this "truth" isn't the case in every instance, obviously. There are exceptions and quite possibly a lot of them. But still. I've done my time with toddlers. I've watched the girls and the boys. And I'm here to climb up on your kitchen table, kick over the chocolate milk, and holler it loud and proud for all to hear: Toddler boys are WAY MORE IMPOSSIBLE than toddler girls.
And here are just three reasons why:
Toddler boys are messier.
I don't know why—they just are. Sure, toddler girls aren't all that adept at getting a tiny spoon into their mouths, and sure, half the time they end up with applesauce in their ear hole and their hair too, but hear me out. If you have a Mess Off between two average toddlers, one a boy and one a girl, I'm damn near guaranteeing you that the boy will out-splatter, out-dirty and out-spaghetti-sauce his face almost every single time.
And let me tell you something: My daughter, Violet, she's not the Queen of England at the Royal Banquet Buffet when she eats, either. She can get grubby. She likes to dig her little hands into a container of nightcrawlers and then if given the chance, tear into a bag of Doritos seconds later. Nacho worm dirt all over her face.
But my 3-year-old Charlie? Fuhgeddaboudit. He puts his sister to messy shame. Minutes after I wipe his face in the morning and get him dressed, he's swinging a red marker across his skin or coating himself in the grime and goo of some long neglected corner of my house, way back behind the side table where kids and vacuum cleaners ain't supposed to go. It's like he's a shapeshifter, perpetually morphing into some fresh version of gross.
Don't get me wrong, he's cute as hell when he's doing it, but he's the proof in the proverbial pudding too, y'all. Just trust me, toddler boys are composed of 70 percent crumbs and mud.
Toddler boys are wilder.
Excuse me for saying this so frankly, but every toddler girl can be a real pain in the ass at times. So can any human alive, actually. We all have our moments and some more than others. Yet no one, NO ONE IN THIS WORLD, can match a little boy in the toddler phase when it comes to truly unpredictable manic behavior.
My toddler is a beautiful boy. He's charming and sweet. His smile is a cosmos in and of itself. He can laugh like nobody I know. He is, I daresay, a wonderful little kid. He is also Satan.
Hopefully not forever, mind you, but for now I know for certain that the devil sneaks up on Charlie at least 50 times a day and operates him like a cheap puppet. Incessant leaping from couch to chair, from chair to coffee table. Running full speed in the house, I see him headed for danger.
Wild toddler boys run when you call them. They kick and scream when you try and get them to brush their teeth.
My daughter, who's now 8, was never that way. She's always been Daddy's little puff of calm in this tempest we call life. She understood from a young age that punching yourself in the face just because is sort of weird.
Wild toddler boys run when you call them. They kick and scream when you try and get them to brush their teeth. In the morning, they wake up, smile at you with sleepy eyes, melt your heart a bit and then proceed to fling Cheerios all over the kitchen floor—not because they want to piss you off on purpose, but rather, because they only know how to listen to the voice inside their small and seemingly empty head.
And that's the deep guttural voice of the Prince of Darkness.
Toddler boys are fearless.
The difference between wild and fearless, you ask? That's easy. Wild is almost acceptable when it comes in small portions and can even make you jealous. I'm often in awe of the energy my toddler son posses. If I had even a smidge of that kind of juice I'd probably be richer, stronger and cooler.
Fearlessness, on the other hand, is the art of being a straight-up whack job when it comes to realizing that monkey bars are for kids who can hold their own body weight off the ground, not pint-sized people who want to tackle the entire world in one lazy summer's day.
The level of daredevilry kills me with this last toddler of mine. His sister was never prone to actually wanting to chase moving vehicles in the street like a dog. Charlie would do it in a second if he could.
Yet, at the end of the day, the craziness of boys at this age is also what makes us love them so much. As he falls asleep on the bed, I look down at Charlie with some new streak of grease (is that actually car grease?!) on his angelic mug and I sigh the sigh of the toddler parent.
I'm in love with him and I wouldn't change a thing. Except, sometimes, if I could, I would push the button that turned Charlie into a little girl, even if just for a few hours. Maybe then Dad could maybe catch his breath in the middle of what has been a long strange journey through the Toddler Wilderness.