A friend of mine recently celebrated her daughter's first birthday, and when we were talking about how fast the year had gone and the fun of first birthdays, her voice suddenly trailed off a bit and she eventually said, "So ... 12 months seems like a really hard age so far. Did you think it was challenging?"
Ha. Ha ha. HA HA HA DID I THINK IT WAS CHALLENGING.
Does a pope wear a funny hat in the woods while standing in a pile of bear crap? You bet your ass I thought it was challenging.
In fact, I wrote some notes about what life was like with my youngest son, Dylan, when he was 12 months old. I call it, creatively, My Least Favorite Things About 1-Year-Old Babies.
They walk, yet they are babies. This is a horrifying combination and should be forbidden by nature. I feel it is a massive Darwinian fail to design babies to be able to heave themselves up on wobbly legs and stagger around like PEOPLE, when they are clearly INFANTS, as evidenced by their total lack of knees/knuckles and their propensity for ferreting out every single choking hazard in the entire house and cramming it in their cry-holes.
Speaking of, they put everything in their mouths. Here is a partial list of what I once fished out of Dylan’s mouth over a 24-hour period: a Curious George sticker, a Band-Aid, a small rock, fifty thousand pieces of paper, a pen cap, his brother’s shoe, a chunk of what I fervently hoped was dried mud, and one mysteriously non-Duplo-sized Lego that must have manifested itself out of another dimension because I swear to GOD I had already hidden all the chokey-sized bricks what the HELL. This was the same baby, mind you, who routinely gagged on RICE CRACKERS and mostly turned his nose up over chunky foods, probably because I didn’t WIPE THEM ON THE FLOOR FIRST.
They have a hair-trigger gag reflex. I became so reluctantly experienced at dealing with a Surprise Cough-Barf, I had an entire honed, efficient tactical action plan involving paper towels and Mrs. Meyer’s Lavender Spray and baking soda and simultaneous bath-preparation and laundry-starting activities and, frankly, this is not one of those life skills I ever wanted to be good at. Dear child: yes, post-nasal drip is gross, but re-enacting the pea soup scene from The Exorcist is infinitely more disgusting for all involved parties.
They are emotionally unstable. Whine, whine, whine. I can’t reach that ball, someone took the pen cap out of my mouth, I don’t like these shoes, this diaper change is filling me with rage, I’m riddled with invisible demons and I don’t know what my problem is so I guess I’ll just scream for about a goddamned hour straight. God, it’s like their brains are still forming, or something. Like they have limited communication skills and get easily frustrated and are constantly bonking their heads on things. SO IMMATURE OMG.
In other words: yes. It's a very challenging age. My god.
However, in the interest of fairness, I do have a few things I love about 1-year-old babies, such as:
They dance. There is nothing, NOTHING like seeing a 12-month-old bopping along with Eninem’s “Crack a Bottle." Uh-oh uh-oh, bitches hoppin’ in my Tahoe.
They love to laugh. Like when you get down on your hands and knees and pretend to be a bear and crawl after your baby going RRWAAR!, and their eyebrows shoot up and they go shriiiiiiiiiiek with pure insane joy before they laugh so hard, they fall over and hit their head on the entertainment center? That’s pretty rad.
They talk all the time, about GOD KNOWS WHAT. “Ba blah da doe blmphz da DER DER pah gee DOH,” they say, and you go, I know, right?
They're full of love (when they're not full of rage). They are in the perfect sweet spot between actively choosing to be cuddled (vs the passive human-represents-food pleasure of the newborn) and figuring out that almost any other activity is more fun than snuggling with Mom. They run full-tilt into your arms. They press their cheek against yours. They sit back to drink you in, then lean forward to sigh happily against your chest.
Their butts are ridiculous. I defy you to gaze upon a 12-month-old’s naked bottom and not feel certain the world is in fact filled with unicorns and rainbows.
I know everyone always says that you should enjoy whatever age your child is, because you'll miss it so much later—but I can't say I miss my children as 12-month-olds. I mean, okay, maybe I miss their squishy little bodies, but that's what photos and loving memories are for.
How about you—where do you stand on the 12-month-old stage? Did you love it best of all ... or mostly suffer through it?