I don’t know if this will be an unpopular opinion, but for me, having a one-year-old is a lot like having a puppy. Allow me to plead my case.
First off, there is the energy level. My kid wakes up chatting (not that my husband or I can understand him, but he has a lot to say) and wanting to groggily toddle around the house bumping into furniture. Throughout the day, he dances, wiggles and is even starting to run a bit. His absolute favorite game is to alternate between being chased and chasing either his father or me – a game I vividly recall playing for hours in the park with a pit bull/golden lab mix I grew up with. He spins in circles. He claps his hands and stamps his little feet. It’s so much motion and activity that it sometimes tires me out to watch. Dog trainers advise frequent walks for puppies to give them exercise. I try to plan activities for my kid so that he can burn off some of his seemingly limitless energy.
Then there’s the food issue. Just like a puppy, my little boy will eat anything at the moment. Mostly, I’m gratefully feeding him a variety of wholesome foods every mealtime, but I also find myself stiff-arming him anytime I’m trying to eat. Just like a puppy, a one-year-old doesn’t understand that certain food is too spicy for him, or that because he doesn’t have molars, he’s not ready for raw spinach leaves. Also, as with an adorable puppy, I am too much of a sucker not to give in and let him have a bite or two of something from my plate, even if he’s already has his meal.
Of course, everyone knows it’s not just food that puppies want to chew on. Hair ties, kitchen utensils, and all kinds of other household things are at risk of being chomped by the one-year-old. (So far he hasn’t tackled any shoes, but I’m sure that’s because we usually leave those outside.) Everywhere we go we are on alert for choking hazards. He even gnaws on the railing of his playpen. No rookie like me, his day care teacher quickly devised a way to attach one of his baby burpie cloths to the rail of playpen he uses at day care so that he chews on a clean cloth instead of directly on her furniture.
My little one is also every bit as cuddly as a puppy. His favorite way to nap is nestled up against his dad. Especially in an unfamiliar setting, he loves to be carried around by one of his parents or a favorite auntie, uncle or play-cousin. Ever been tripped up by a puppy who just wants to be close to you, even when you are walking around trying to do something else? That’s me and my kid every day in the kitchen. He just wants to be close to other people.
I’ve come to the conclusion that for both 1-year-olds and for puppies, cuteness is no accident. If they weren’t so adorable, we wouldn’t let them get away with half of this stuff!
A version of this column first appeared in the Oct. 18, 2018 Limin Times.