This is one of my entries this week for therealljidol. I invite you to read and vote for the many fine entries. We writing on several topics this week. This entry is in response to the topic "It's Not Easy Being Green."
The other day, I watched as my 2-year-old son -- whom I call Kung Fu Panda (or KFP, for short) -- speared a piece of watermelon with his spoon. It took him several tries to accomplish this task, but he persisted. When he finally held up the watermelon triumphantly, I suggested that now he should put it in his mouth. He looked at me as if I had a foot coming out of my forehead. Not until I watched my toddler attempting to feed himself did I consider how complicated the process might be.
Almost every daily activity I take for granted is a challenge for my little guy, from feeding himself to walking without falling over. From his first days, when he struggled to master his flying fingers, he has eagerly sought each new achievement. Never content with his successes, he's always flinging himself forward. If he's not climbing onto a too-big chair, he's trying to open a water bottle that I didn't even realize he could reach.
Long past the days of sucking on plush elephants, KFP grows impatient when his toys won't cooperate. Why won't his wooden train stay together when he picks it up? He cries and asks me for help, but I'm useless. I can only tell him, "It's not made that way." He swallows his disappointment, but deep down, I know he believes that if he can only find the secret, he can make the train do what he wants.
(Seriously, is it too much to ask for a toy train that's easy for toddlers to connect and carry around? And while we're at it, can you please design a stroller that can be folded with one hand?)
Imagine all the things toddlers need to learn: from language to basic hygiene, such as brushing your teeth and using a potty, to how to share (a skill some adults are still refining). With all this data running through his head, my little guy is like a carbon-based computer, constantly processing. He repeats words as if he's drilling himself; I think he's studying for the Baby SATs. If he is, there must be a section on "Thomas and Friends," since he's memorized the name of every engine -- his favorite being the green one, Percy -- and can distinguish them even when many adults cannot.
How strange it must be, living on the border between baby and child. The same child who can sing along with his favorite songs and who dances enthusiastically declines to simply walk much of the time. "I no walk," he tells me, throwing his arms up and stamping his little feet if I don't comply immediately. Distraction is my friend, as I'm quickly learning. It's amazing how effective it can be to simply exclaim, "Ooh, look, a truck!"
My mother tells me that my son is a lot like I was at that age: inquisitive, constantly exploring, and intrigued by language. Once, when I was pulling my hair out at KFP's high-maintenance personality, I asked Mom if I'd ever made her want to hit her head against the wall. "No," she said, "I was fascinated by you. It was so much fun to watch you learn." On the best days, it's a lot like that. And on the other days when he gives in to frustration -- and I have to be the calming influence -- it's often funny in retrospect.
I guess, all these years past toddlerhood, I'm still learning.
Now, KFP would like to share his own thoughts on the subject, his toddler-ized version of "It's Not Easy Being Green":
Greetings, KFP here
And today I'd like to tell you a little bit about being green
Do you know what that means?
For one thing, it means you’re new
You’re a beginner, and I'm a beginner
And that means that I'm green, you see
It's not that easy being green
Having to spend each day figuring out things
I think it could be nicer being a big boy, like Elmo
Or a grown-up like Christopher Robin
It's not easy being green
You get confused by so many ordinary things
And people tend to call you a baby
'Cause you're not swimming yet
Or holding your fork
Or tying your own shoes
But green's the color of Ninja Turtles
And green can hop like frogs hop
And green can “hissss” like snakes
Or you can wiggle like a lizard
And not have to rhyme
When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder when
You’ll be bigger, but why wonder
I am green, and I'll do fine
It's fun, and Mommy says it’s a good thing to be
Almost forgot to thank beta reader roina_arwen for taking a look at this one, as it evolved.