After two and a half years on the job I think it is only my proper duty to take a stab at answering the age old question of which type of human beings are worse – babies or toddlers? Don’t get me wrong each subset of the species has their redeeming qualities (don’t we all), but I choose to focus rather on the qualities that are not so redeeming because we all know a dose of pessimism does the body good. Of course I’m no child expert but instead I just happen to be an observer of children (creepy much?), in particular the development of three very familiar children over the course of their first few years of life.
Now I think it goes without saying that taking care of one child is difficult. It’s a jolt to the system that the system has never felt before. Or so they say, what do I know I’ve never had one. Furthermore, a second child adds to the difficulty and so on and so on. However, after being a nanny to the trishlets I do think there is an added level to the insanity that is known as having and raising children. I think my experience has taught me that taking three or four kids out in public is dumb no matter which way you frame it, but taking three small kids that are the same age is just asking for it. That’s why we never go out. We might as well be one of those families that are imprisoned by criminals in their basements/backyards or something. (I kid, I kid.) It’s just that everything with triplets is that more heightened and that more exacerbated as you can imagine. Which brings us back to the ever so important question that anthropologists will study for years to come – were they worse as babies or as toddlers?
Before I dive into the highly legal, reliable, scientific, and valid reasons why one group is better than the next when placed in different scenarios, let me first mention this idea of terrible two’s. Toddlers are considered to be children from the age range of 1-3 and are given this name because they toddle around. Well let me tell you something, they are doing much more than toddling. There’s a reason they call it the terrible two’s and if you are one of those parents that simply says, “Oh no we haven’t experienced the terrible two’s yet,” well then you might as well and go put your child in the Smithsonian already as they are clearly a treasure and artifact and because shut up. While terrible is quite accurate and really needs no further defining, I think it would be enjoyable to offer up a few more choice “T” words/phrases that describe two year olds and toddlers for that matter. Tyrannical, totalitarian, time wasters, tiny terrors, trash providers, and total jerks. Okay maybe that last one was a little harsh but needed to emphasize a point.
For purpose of this discussion the situations regarding the babies will be from the ages of roughly 7-9 months since I was not with the trishlets on a day-to-day basis prior to that (which I know is like well babies are the worse when they are first born so how can you compare if you aren’t going to reference the sleepless nights and the constant neediness but this is my made up blog post and frankly I can do what I want) and when referring to toddlers I’m talking the 2-3 age range. From my years of service (not to be confused with actually serving) I’d like to provide various scenarios/experiences such as watching TV, loading the car, etc. to explain just how different these scenarios can be for triplet babies and triplet toddlers. It’s like the babies are the prosecutors accusing the toddlers of being far worse than them and the toddlers are the defendants trying to prove their innocence of not being the worse humans out there. Or perhaps like a heavyweight fight going toe to toe, round for round. Babies in one corner of the ring and toddlers in the opposite corner. I’ll present the rounds and thus the evidence, deliver a victor or draw for each match up, and at the end come to the conclusion to who wins (if you can call it that) the title for being the worse. (If you happened to have read the previous paragraph to this one – spoiler alert – I think you may know where this is headed.) Let the games begin!
(***Disclaimer 1: The thoughts here about babies and toddlers are strictly based from my own experience as a nanny to triplets and can’t necessarily be generalized to the greater population but also can most definitely be generalized to the greater population. Take them how you want.)
Round 1: Watching TV
At the precious age of 8 months we all know the horrors of screen time that so many profess. I happen to be in the camp that sides with exposure to monitored screen time won’t send them to the grave. So in other words babies watching Sesame Street and smiling at Elmo isn’t the worst thing. The trishlets viewing preferences as babies were usually of the PBS kind, usually of the friendly characters found on the block we all know and love, and occasionally of the meth loving chemistry teacher as a result of that one time I binged watched Breaking Bad in August 2013. Oh did I say their preferences, I meant mine. When they are babies you can still watch your TV shows because they don’t really pick up on the illegal drugs, devious schemes, and violence and also half the time they are drifting in and out of consciousness as they are bouncing themselves to a state of delirium, so technically they really aren’t even paying attention.
On the other hand watching TV with toddlers is a whole other experience. As a reasonable person you are aware that exposure to adult content found in some TV shows isn’t appropriate for toddlers and thus your TV watching habits are suddenly and abruptly shifted to the animated kind. I mean I could probably break down most PBS Kids, Nick Jr., Disney Jr. shows with a descriptive dialogue of how great and awful they are at the same time, so I’m well aware of toddlers TV watching preferences. It’s just that when they are two they tend to be demanding and opinionated in what they want to watch. And of course with three of them if one gets a choice, the other two will rightfully get theirs as well. Next thing you know you are down a Paw Patrol rabbit hole that you can’t get out of. Adding to this problem is they tend to choose the same shows which can get monotonous and drive you the adult to sing songs and respond to audience participation all the while the toddlers sit and watch on in silence. And as a direct result of this you begin to start questioning your existence. And furthermore when you ask what they want to watch and you happen to suggest that it would be nice if I the nanny had a choice once in a while, they without fail will always deny your requests to watch Making a Murderer for a change of pace. However, as they get older you can throw in viewing movies such as Home Alone, and that my friend is a downright victory for all.
Winner for the worse group to watch TV with: Toddlers
Round 2: Loading/Unloading the car
Babies have these things where their car seats can go anywhere, in case you are reading this and are unaware of how baby car seats work. So loading and unloading them when they were 7 months old usually required strapping them in, clicking them into their base, and then you are ready to boogie. Therefore, loading/unloading the vehicle was a relatively sane and peaceful process. On second thought, I do remember a few times where it must have felt like they were on one of those simulated roller coaster games as I struggled to heave the car seat into the back left corner of the minivan and their tiny bodies were just bopping along to the thrill of it all.
There are many reasons why two year olds are so enjoyable to be around, however getting them into the car is not one of them. I’m not even going to mention the process before stepping out the door because we all know how asking a child to put on shoes, a coat, or pretty much any necessity to make it out in the world more often than not easily sends them into a tailspin. Because life is hard as a two year old. When they finally get to the car the G8 summit proceedings commence and the peace negotiations begin and we hopefully settle on a treaty of who is going to sit where in a timely manner. As they approach their seats it never ceases to amaze me what they can find, do, or see to distract them from the task at hand which is the next logical step of sitting in your actually seat — there’s a french fry from who knows when under the driver’s seat, well I must eat it. There’s a vent above my head, well I must turn it and close it, and turn it and close it, and turn it and close it. Oh is that a light I see, well it must be put on, duh. There’s the dino I’ve been looking for, I must have it before I sit. And while we are at it I might as well test out how it feels to be behind the wheel of this bad boy — These are the distractions that make the act of loading and unloading toddlers a situation that would even make Mother Teresa raise her voice. Oh and the independence. I almost forgot about the independence part. The climbing in the seat on their own, the buckling of their seat belts on their own, and the closing the doors on their own (even if it is right after they’ve stepped into the car which leads to shutting the helpless nanny out.) There are often tears (mostly shed by me), lots of wrangling and wrestling, and definitely sweaty armpits, but once they are strapped in they are captive. And that’s what I like, toddlers that are finally at the mercy of the one actually behind the wheel and not the other way around. Also, because of the chaos that comes with performing the duties of getting triplet toddlers into the car this sometimes happens:
Winner for the worse group to load and unload into the car: To no one’s surprise – Toddlers
Round 3: Toileting
Yes there was a point when I was probably changing upwards of 20+ diapers a day. And yes there were some deadly and gross ones to make it through. But have no fear, I made it. And all of that is to be expected with babies. You expect them to go in their diaper because when’s the last time you’ve seen a 9 month old walking around squatting on the potty. These are daily things that come along with having a baby, you must embrace it and move on. So we can’t really fault a baby for doing what they are supposed to be doing and that is going the bathroom in their diaper. Who we can fault are……………
The toddler age is a typical time to start the potty training process. There are many approaches to this process and what works for some doesn’t work for others and we must accept that. With triplets the toileting process has been adventurous to say the least. What I’ve learned is interest is the key. If there is an interest, there might be hope. And a glimmer of hope is what is needed when you’ve change the fifth bowel movement in the span of 15 minutes produced by a gaggle of two year olds. The thing is you know they know that we know that they know that we know that they know that we know that they know they need to take care of their business on the toilet. It’s when you as the adult think your child is deliberately going in their diaper to spite you, that you begin to get crazy. You have so many unresolved questions that you ask yourself, actually just one question that you find yourself screaming: “PLEASE, WHY WON’T YOU JUST GO ON THE POTTY?” And all this focus on learning how to use the potty just really gets to your head. I mean as the nanny I’ve contemplated lots of things that are in direct line with this hoopla surrounding potty training. For instance, most children are potty trained between the ages of 2-4 and one of the first things they learn to do besides not touch the pee water or to inspect the poop in the toilet by getting a closer look, is to flush the toilet. So may I just ask you then: why is it that when you enter a public bathroom you have to be horrified by that one toilet that someone refused to flush. This is a skill two year olds master, is it that difficult to follow through with this practice our entire lives, sheeesh. And the other thing that crosses my mind while getting the child to use the potty is pondering about the things that actually come out of toddlers bodies. I’m constantly in awe that a 25 lb. pipsqueak boy can push that amount of product out of his body, but I guess it is true what they say, God does indeed work in mysterious way. Okay so anyway potty training is the worse, end of story.
Winner for the worse group in the act of toileting: Do I even have to say it – Toddlers.
Round 4: Going to the supermarket
You don’t. Yeah if you have one baby sure take em to the supermarket, throw them in the shopping cart no problem. Sorry but that ain’t happening when you have triplets. When you do take a triplet baby grocery shopping it is most definitely a solo affair and usually is just so you can have a photo shoot in every aisle as evidenced here:
Let me just paint the picture of what it is like to take toddlers to the supermarket. I decided one day after picking Joey up from school to take him and the trishlets to the grocery store so they could get a donut. They like the sour worms/Swedish fish that the grocery store puts on some of their donuts, so I thought why not. Before entering the store I give them the pep talk that we are here for one thing only and if you fail in that mission you will be excommunicated from the family. I warn them that you must listen to me and hold hands in the parking lot and most important of all no one shall cry or else your pretty little donut is mine. So in order to make things easier I place those blinder things on them, you know the ones that you see horses wear in the city so they don’t get distracted and try to run back to the countryside, that way they aren’t blinded by the countless food/drink items available to them at the grocery store. We get out of the car and form our red rover chain that no car or person shall break. Often times when I am walking in this fashion with the four of them or even the three of them I find the need for a construction worker (you know the ones who hold the stop/slow signs to tell you when to go when one side of the road is being repaired) to follow us around and quickly pop up into intersections and hold a mama duck and her ducklings crossing sign which would allow us to maneuver safely in our surroundings. A girl can dream, right? Anyhow, once inside the store I corral them like I’m moving sheep in the rolling hills of Ireland to the donut area and let them choose one for their liking. They of course see the thousands of other treats offered and I immediately shut down the possibility of that happening. Because one answer, no. No we don’t have time to actually grocery shop and no we didn’t come here to buy all the treats in the store even if your precious heart desires them. We grab the donuts and quickly scan for the shortest line, but first we must make a stop at the $3 DVD bin so Henry can insist on me buying him The Nutty Professor. The checkout line can’t go quick enough. Lots of nos, lots of maybe next time, lots of reminders of the reward of the donut for attending for a few more moments, and of course stares from the cashier as she sees you’ve brought four small children into the grocery store to buy a whopping $3.22 worth of donuts. Insanity at its best. But sometimes taking the triplets out in public does work to our benefit. Like that one time I took them to Dunkin’ Donuts (I’m going with a donut theme here, alright people) and asked for eight munchkins and they gave me something like 26 extra and didn’t charge me for any. I guess they could sense my state of disequilibrium traveling with a group of two year olds that aren’t my own and decided to throw me a line. Thank you, Dunkin’ Donuts, thank you. And one more thing I might add is since these kids so rarely get to go to the grocery store it’s like they are stepping into Walt Disney World when they do make it inside one and that it nice to see. Because every day occurrences should and can be exciting too.
Winner of the worse group to go to a grocery store with: I’m not sure my toddler grocery tale brought any clarity to the situation at hand, but it would probably be very difficult to take triplet babies to the grocery store and expect to get any considerable amount of shopping done. So let’s give this one to the Babies!
Round 5: Going to church
Attending mass with three babies is what every sane person wants to do. First, you take stock in scoping out the small real estate of pews that three baby carriers can logistically fit into. Then, you arrive with a diaper bag the size of an 18 year old girl’s hair from Dallas who is attending her debuatante ball. When settled you are praying not to the Lord for forgiveness, good health, and yada, yada, yada, but to keep these babies silencio, and to keep the homily short, and for no guest speakers. If one baby happens to murmur it tends to be okay because you can usually provide a pacifier or a bottle to soothe them. If they start to cry, from my experience, it’s not that bad either because they are babies and they are cute and, you also have the option of directly banishing them to the back waiting area.
(In church with baby after he was stripped of Original sin)
On the other hand, taking toddlers to church is what insane people’s dreams are made up of. I must be honest there have been times where we have made it without any outbursts and that in my eyes rivals the great miracles of the past, such as Jesus turning water into wine. The other times when miracles are not happening you are instead faced with feelings of despair and regret for deciding to bring these hooligans into a holy place. When in the presence of two year old triplets during mass you are never at ease nor should you be because the worst case scenario of them running towards the altar and jovially trying to chase the priest around is always a possibility. Additionally, when attending church with triplet toddlers the offering of peace takes 45 minutes because everyone of course has to shake everyone’s hand. It’s like one of those math problems that you learn to solve in 7th grade with trying to figure out permutations, if you take a group of seven to church how many possibilities of the shaking hand process can there be. No one and I mean no one wants to try to figure that out, yet these triplets try their darndest to do just that. Furthermore, when a toddler squeals or cries at mass it ain’t so cute anymore, and the natural reaction before extraction is to get nice and tight and whisper: “I will slap you in the face if you don’t stop these antics right now.” Because toddlers should know better than to shed even one tear in the house of the Lord, how dare they. There is however one benefit over babies when taking toddlers to church and that is the Texas size diaper bag no longer exists and rather you breathe a great sigh of relief when they find some other child’s left over lone cheerio under the pew to keep them occupied.
Winner of the worse group to go to church with: Draw
Round 6: Going to an Amusement Park
Taking triplet babies to an amusement park is pretty much just a way in which to show off your children. Babies can’t go on rides so what’s the point, because I don’t really see one. It’s like when first time parents take their two month old to the zoo to impart an educational experience on their young mind when all the baby wants is to find the nearest living thing that will provide them with milk. Mommy human or mommy gorilla they don’t care. So same goes with taking babies to an amusement park, there isn’t much for them to do so it isn’t worth the hassle. Unless of course you the nanny wants to take them with your sister (who also isn’t their mother) and you want to be tracked down by a lovely man who also happens to have triplets, and then proceeds to applaud the awesomeness of science because without it we wouldn’t have our kids today. You know, him and his partner, and me and my sister who he thinks are a lesbian couple. So if you want to confuse people into thinking you are in a lesbian relationship with your sister, I guess that is the perfect time to show off your triplet stroller at the amusement park.
Toddlers love amusement parks and it does warm your heart to see the joy that comes over their little beings when they are inside the gates of one of them. And as a family who grew up going to amusement parks and having made some great memories at them, I am happy to be a part of them experiencing rides for the first time. However, let’s end this Mr. Roger’s episode right here. After one trip I won’t name names (Ocean City, NJ) my outlook on toddlers and amusement parks shifted. There were eight of us and we wanted to go on the log flume so after we did the AP calculus necessary to figure out how many tickets were needed, we proceeded onto the ride and enjoyed all 60 seconds of it. The toddlers loved it, but my love couldn’t quite reach peak levels when I calculated after the fact that based on the cost of the tickets sold it cost us roughly $32.00 to ride the flume. That’s a crime. Going to an amusement park shouldn’t force the bank to close in on your house, but often times it feels like that is the case when venturing to these family fun places. Nonetheless, universally toddlers are elated to go to amusement parks and for that reason alone it is hard to argue against them.
(Taken not at the aforementioned log flume, but at the family and cost friendly Dutch Wonderland)
Winner of the worse group to go to the amusement park with: Babies – I suppose for their lack of height and weight rendering them unable to ride anything.
Round 7: Going to the beach:
If you thought preparing to take triplet babies to church was fun just imagine taking triplet babies to the beach. It looks something like this for a trip to the beach for a night:
The pack and plays, the bathtubs sized sunscreen tubes, the diapers, and the list goes on and on. Babies at the beach require a lot of prep and the payoff just isn’t satisfying enough. Yes it can be adorable seeing a baby at the beach as evidenced here:
But you usually can’t stay long and pulling a triplet stroller in the sand isn’t quite exactly how most dads imagine their trips to the beach to look like. Don’t get me wrong touching their feet into the water and the cries that follow are entertaining, but you as the caretaker are doing a lot of lifting and moving and making sure sand isn’t swallowed by the handful but rather just in small doses, and thus it doesn’t make it an experience that is brimming with fun.
Come to think of it having babies who aren’t yet mobile at the beach may be a better option than toddler triplets who are. The amount of items packed for a beach getaway tends to be significantly lower because once they turn two you could care less if they are sleeping on the roof of the car or in their actual beds as long as they are sleeping. Yes the application of sunscreen is just as dreadful as before, but the payoff is now that they have aged they can stay at the beach for longer hours. Though with triplets and a big brother watching them by the ocean can be a challenge, in case you had a brain block and thought otherwise. One is usually running in one direction to flirt with the lifeguard, while the other is joining another family because their hole in the sand is bigger than the measly dip you provided them with, the other diving into the wave breaks, and the last searching for the nearest boy selling ice cream. You’re mental awareness has to be on point or else you won’t survive. So if you are looking for an activity where you get all sandy, are constantly moving and grooving to keep track of tiny children, have to present your body in a bathing suit to others, and occasionally get to swim in the ocean, then going to the beach with triplet toddlers is the activity just for you. Once again, they enjoy it so I’ll have to go against my Debbie downer ways and say it might just all be worth it.
Winner of worse group to go to the beach with: As tiring as toddlers are at the beach, I think the Babies narrowly win this round.
Round 8: Bedtime Routine
Give them a bottle and send them off. Yes I know it isn’t that easy to put a baby to bed, but when they are 8 months old you don’t have to brush their teeth, you don’t have to shut down the circus act of them running in circles for an hour in their bedroom to exert every last ounce of energy they have before hitting the sack, and you don’t have to read and read and read because you know the tantrum that will ensue if one of them doesn’t get the choice they want. At bedtime, babies don’t ask you for one more kiss and one more hug or assistance so their blanket is covering them just right even though you placed said blanket on them less than a minute prior. You give them sweet words of comfort, maybe sing a lullaby, and let them cry it out until they are peacefully asleep.
Winner of worse group to put to bed: With a unanimous decision – Toddlers
To save this from being a lethal diatribe on why babies and toddlers even exist, I don’t think it is necessary to provide any further evidence on why babies and toddlers are the worse in so many ways. I mean I have plenty to say about their differences in eating habits, napping abilities, and taking them to the mall but I’ll leave that for another day.
So after going toe to toe in eight rounds of battle the results are: 4-3-1. Hear ye, hear ye: “In the case of who is the worse, Babies vs. Toddlers, the people of the jury find the defendants, the Toddlers – GUILTY!” Babies enjoy your victory while you can but don’t gloat too much because it won’t last. And with a score of 3 just know that you are mere centimeters away from being the worse group of humans out there, second only to toddlers.
If anyone is looking to appeal this decision please feel free to take it directly to the U.S. Supreme Court because I’m sure once they see a case like this on their docket they will drop whatever other issues that are currently plaguing our country and tend to this matter immediately.