Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Toddler Toga Party

I've recently read that the first three years of life are critical for the development of a child's brain. From birth until three years old, a baby's brain cells proliferate wildly, making connections that may shape a lifetime of experience.

Once a child is born, the brain produces trillions of neurons - more than it could ever possibly use. "Then, through a process that resembles Darwinian competition, the brain eliminates connections, or synapses, that are seldom or never used. The excess synapses in a child's brain undergo a draconian pruning, starting around the age of 10, leaving behind a mind whose patterns of emotion and thought are, for better or worse, unique."

Herein lies our Catch-22.

I can see that our children are constantly learning and I know that the synapes in their brains have not yet formed completely. Thus, they do not know that climbing and subsequently falling off the kitchen table, walking in front of someone swinging on the playground, or jumping off the top of the slide may lead to physical injury and pain. My concern is that the synapses in our children's brain are never going to form correctly if they are constantly smashing - or having their noggin - smashed.

At our house, noggin smashing happens every.single.day.

A toddlers adorable - and yet totally insane behavior - is primarily due to their immature, but rapidly developing brains. Taking care of three toddlers is more than a job. It's a whirlwind, exhausting adventure ... and every single day, I want to bop myself in the noggin.

In a room of 100 toys - our kids will inexplicably be drawn to the same exact one. They will fight over this toy, yell, push, cry, hit and bite. Invariably, Charlie and I will step in to referee and when we introduce a new toy ... our children will now inexplicably be drawn to it, leaving behind the toy that they were gouging each other's eyes out over, seconds before. Now the once coveted toy is forgotten and the new toy is the only thing that will bring them any happiness. Damn be their siblings.

Until, Barney comes on television, and the children stop cold in their tracks and embrace each other in a group hug. They are like pint-sized schizophrenics on the loose.

When we go for walks around the neighborhood, we have been putting two children in our double stroller and letting the third one take turns to walk "free". A walk that once took us 15 minutes around our block, now takes two hours. Not because our children have little legs, which they do, but because they stop every 6-inches to carefully examine everything on the ground. Ants, worms, caterpillars, snails ... leaves, pinecones, rocks, bottle caps. Sometimes instead of walking in a straight line, they will hold their little arms up in the air and spin around and around in circles until they are dizzy.

And then, they will laugh hysterically as they try to stagger forward before falling down.

Last week, I found all three of our children eating a candle. Moments later, they had confiscated a roll of self-adhesive stamps and were peeling them off and trying to ingest them before I could see what they were up to. When I asked what they were doing, they began jabbering, and Carolyn started to sing incoherently. Then, they threw the evidence away from them and tried to look busy with something else.

Then, they all started to cry. They are extremely emotional. Then, they came over and tried to hug me. They are extremely loving. They are extremely dependent. They are extremely enfuriating. They are extremely amusing. They are extremely innocent. They will have moments of independence, yet, they are an absolute danger to themselves. They are the life of a party. But at the end of the day - I can't wait for them to pass out.

I have fond memories of toga parties in my collegiate days. Many times, I would be a "designated-walker" or, the person who remained sober enough to remember where we lived and was able to get my friends back to the dorm safely. What I remember most is that when my friends were intoxicated, and I was not, they were extremely emotional. They were extremely loving. They were extremely dependent.
They were extremely amusing. They were extremely frustrating. They would have moments of independence, yet, they were an absolute danger to themselves. They were the life of a party. But at the end of the evening - I couldn't wait for them to pass out.

Am I insinuating that caring for three toddlers is like caring for an intoxicated toga-clad freshman?

Why, yes ... I am.

Thankfully, a toddler is much more adorable and not as likely to throw up all over my couch.

Oh, wait a minute...


  1. Okay back to the brain cells...... what are we doing exactly to nurture these brain cells? Okay, you have me just FREAKING OUT over here. I'm sure that the week I'm gone will cause trillions of cells to die off with Greg as their only caregiver.

    I will start reading more. I must start supplementing the homeschooling. Surely, there are other things I must do. Have I missed some classes????? You. are. going. to. drive. me. crazy.

  2. LOL... I seem to recall a certain someone who was very intoxicated, dancing on the pool table at a certain Crow Bar in Shoshone, CA on a Sed-Pet field trip - Oh yeah, that same person saw the alcohol which intoxicated them all over their sleeping bag the very next morning....
    Ahhhh, the Circle of Life!
    Ps- I think that someone lost numerous brain cells that evening...

  3. As usual, this was a much needed laugh to start my day. :)
    Linda (Chicago)

  4. This is an AWESOME post. Love the analogy - it is quite accurate, I would say!

    P.S. - I had a "near triplet" experience yesterday taking my niece to preschool. Three preschoolers in carseats in the back (they were all born within 18 months of each other) - The love! The noise! The chaos! The emotion! The touching and extreme giggling and then extreme annoyance at one another! And I thought of you. :)

  5. Cyndi, Riley, Tyler & Emma2/28/07, 9:34 AM

    Oh my gosh! You just described my daily life, except it's The Wiggles, not Barney, that will stop them in their tracks. Right now Tyler is kissing the laptop screen as I type and Emma is chasing Riley because he stole her "dup" ("cup" in 18-month-old) which she has successfully stolen back and now is giving it back to him but he doesn't want it. Toddlers thinking is such a mystery but having 3 is just mind boggling at times. Lots of emotion, lots of fun and lots of trying times! And I will take it all any day of the week! Having 3 toddlers is an adventure!

  6. I do believe I remember a few times assisting you and others climb through a certain dorm room window.....or was that escaping out the window Miss American Pie or should I say Pippy Longstockings?

  7. Noggin smashing happens quite frequently over here as well. And now they've begun fighting for NO REASON! It used to be over toys or chairs or whatever and now they just want to fight for the sake of fighting.

  8. Can DJ and I come over???? LOL OMG I cannot stop laughing at this one--
    Until, Barney comes on television, and the children stop cold in their tracks and embrace each other in a group hug. They are like pint-sized schizophrenics on the loose.

    hilarious! I love your blog. You are sooooooooo funny :)

  9. Noggin smashing! Heh. I feel like a toddler police officer half the time.

  10. quite an insightful observation!

    i've taken to comparing my toddler to a cave man or chimpanzee. but i definitely see the drunk college kid thing too...

  11. I can attest that you were good in high school if that makes you feel any better.