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YO MAMA: Time management, according to toddlers

Image Credit: PEXELS



“Uh-oh!” my two-year-old exclaimed, pointing at a favourite book that had fallen apart. The inner pages had detached along the spine from the book’s hard cover.

The kid picked up the inner pages and slipped them back inside the cover. Pleased with his work, he lifted up the book for examination and — “uh-oh!”— out fell the pages again.

The kid hated broken things and required that they be fixed NOW. This led to obvious issues when things could not be put back together, like broken crackers, bananas or sticks. It was an interesting concept to watch him wrestle with; the idea that some things could be fixed, while others were irreparable. The patterns of our world are like learning new languages; some verbs are irregular.

The kid was already running to get the glue stick.

“That glue won’t work…” I said, trailing off. It wouldn’t matter. He would try anyway.

He got back with the glue and sat down with immense determination to repair Green Eggs and Ham. Toddlers truly are industrious little creatures.

“Like I said, that glue won’t work. We need to go out to the garage to get the Krazy Glue,” I said. “We can do it tomorrow.”

As soon as he heard “Krazy Glue” and “garage” he was on the move. Toddlers see no sense in waiting when something can be done right this minute. He was off to the garage, beckoning me to follow. There is no time like the present for a toddler.

“Nooooo, let’s do it tomorrow. The garage is so cold,” I said. “I don’t want to go now.”

He stopped and looked back at me like I was a real waste of a human being.

“Uh-oh!” he said, more urgently this time, indicating the catastrophe that was Green Eggs and Ham.

“Oh fine.”

Off we went to the garage. Now that we had started this adventure, I wasn’t even sure if the Krazy Glue was in the garage. If it wasn’t, I’d be in big trouble. Serious “uh-oh” territory. God help me if it wasn’t there.

The kid dragged a step-stool over to the tool shelf and clambered up expertly. He began picking up items, inspecting them, and putting them back down. He had no idea what he was looking for.

“Aha!” I said, picking up a crusty old tube. “Krazy Glue.”

The kid swiped it out of my hand and raced back into the house. He might as well have been carrying an automatic defibrillator to a heart attack patient.

I raced behind him with the speed of a mother whose two-year-old is in possession of a tube of Krazy Glue.

“Alright, alright, let’s take a breath,” I said. “I’ll show you how to do it.”

The kid knelt beside me as I squirted a steady line of glue along the spine of Green Eggs and Ham. We used a wad of paper towel to spread the glue out evenly, then lined up the pages with the cover. Together, we pressed the book back together. In that moment, we were antique book collectors restoring a rare collector’s item. I was really getting into it. Fixing the book was oddly satisfying and zen.

“We have to wait a few minutes for the glue to set,” I said. “We need to be patient.”

While we waited, I reflected on my son’s time management, versus my own. To me, going into a cold garage to seek out a tube of long-forgotten Krazy Glue was a chore. To him, it was an adventure into the unknown. A mini learning journey chock full of new skills, words and life lessons. Imagine if we looked at our own daily chores that way? Maybe we wouldn’t procrastinate as much.

After five minutes, I told the kid he could check the book. He lifted it up and the pages stayed in. Success!

“Ah-ha!” he said.

He proceeded to drop the book and scamper off to the living room. Seconds later, I heard the slap-slap-slap of his bare feet on the tile. He returned with another broken book.

The busy work of a toddler never ends.

— Charlotte Helston gave birth to her first child, a rambunctious little boy, in the spring of 2021. Yo Mama is her weekly reflection on the wild, exhilarating, beautiful, messy, awe-inspiring journey of parenthood.


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