When asked about their favorite time of year, most people get misty-eyed remembering summer BBQs, warm evening concerts in the park, sunbathing, and staying up late. Sounds idyllic, right?
Unless you’re a toddler.
Young children are physically incapable of sitting on a picnic blanket and enjoying a movie in the park without an obscene amount of shrieking and nudity. For them summers are hot, sweaty marathons filled with epic sunscreen chases worthy of greased pigs, long drives in the grueling sun which burns toddler-eyes like acid, and lukewarm kiddie pools, filled with urine, and swarming with babies like hippos in a mud hole.
Autumn, on the other hand, offers relief from the sweltering humidity summer and a reprieve from the blistering cold winds of winter. It boasts diverse sights, sounds and educational experiences that even the crankiest, hardest-teething, most constipated, high on left-over-Halloween candy toddlers can enjoy.
So in honor of the beautiful, often-maligned season between Summer and Christmas, here are 11 reasons why November is my toddler’s favorite month.
Leaves- While falling leaves are a nuisance to gardeners and golfers alike, they are manna from Heaven for a toddler. A simple afternoon stroll becomes a symphonic experience of crunching, squelching, sliding, and giggling. Especially when friendly, thoughtful neighbors selflessly gather mountain-like piles perfect for burrowing through like gophers. Geronimo!
Fireplaces- The first time we light a fire in our fireplace our toddler will sit on the hearth rug and stare at the crackling flames for hours, eyes wide, mouth slackened, attention peaked like the dancing light is the entertainment equivalent of the lovechild of Mickey Mouse and The Wiggles. Except without the annoying songs that get stuck in everyone’s head. Hot dog!
Fewer Baths- The words “bath time” fill my toddler with the same fear and anxiety as I experience every time my mother-in-law twitches her helpful fingers at my unfolded laundry. In the summer bathe our kids every night, but by November we allow them to revel in their own filth for a while before insisting on washing them. Bathing every other night means a glorious break from the typical bath time ritual of my toddler running naked and screaming down the hallway, locking himself in his room, and taunting me through the door. Which incidentally is exactly my reaction to my Mother-In-Law folding my underwear.
Sunrises- No one embraces the end of Daylight Savings as much as the bright-eyed, enthusiastic, human alarm clocks that are toddlers. Now that the clocks have fallen back an hour, toddlers everywhere are doing their part to ensure that their parents get to enjoy the earlier sunrises. And just to be safe, they’ll make sure you’re up with hours to spare!
Slides- How many summer evenings have you taken your toddler to the playground only to have them refuse to touch any of the equipment because it’s too hot, too sticky, or too infested by bees? Not in November! Once the temperatures have descended back into double-digits, everyone’s most treasured playground equipment is comfortably temperate, and extra slippery thanks to the increasing popularity of sweat pants. Ready or not, here I come!
Squirrels- Some might describe these abundant rodents as rats with good public relations, but toddlers know better. Squirrels are nature’s circus performers, waggling their tails and performing acrobatic feats from bird feeder to bird feeder. My toddler will sit by the back door for hours shouting “SQUIRREL!” at full volume every time he spots one of the fuzzy daredevils.
Cookies- Every fall my house becomes a chocolate chip laden, icing covered, powdered sugar dipped toddler’s paradise. During the rest of the year, when my toddler hounds me for cookies I politely deny him the sugary treat and hand him a healthy alternative like an apple or some yogurt. However, once the weather turns cold and the aroma of pumpkin-spice fills the air, I drastically change my nutritional tune. Suddenly baking cookies together goes from being a diabetes-inducing, high calorie, poor life choice to a treasured family tradition.
Boots- Dressing your kids in boots means no laces or velcro to complicate the process, so even the youngest toddlers can step into them unassisted. This satisfies their urgent need to “ME DO IT!” without sacrificing your schedule or your sanity.
Puddles- Once he’s donned his boots, my toddler ready to brave myriad of fresh, tempting puddles that result from the steady November rain. There is no joy in life as great as watching your toddler leap so zealously into a deep puddle that they miss the water completely with their feet and land bottom-first and waste deep in the muddy sludge. Wallowing like pigs in the slime is worth every torturous minute of the impending bath.
Clouds- Summer drives are pure Hell for a toddler. It’s hot but the air conditioner is too blowy, they’re thirsty but the ice in their water bottle is too loud, and no matter what they do the sunlight streaming in the window is melting their eyeballs from their sockets. Luckily November’s rain and gloom are better than sunglasses for protecting delicate toddler vision. Not to mention the entertainment value of “Look, that cloud looks like Mickey Mouse!”
Pumpkin Spice Lattes- Like it or not, Pumpkin spice has become a national symbol of fall. Starbucks fans train like marathoners to build up a tolerance to caffeine so they can enjoy a third latte each day without vibrating off the sofa. My toddler has learned to take advantage of the sudden burst of slightly jittery energy that courses through my body during the entire month of November. Mommy is levitating again, time to play!
So as you can see, my toddler would take a crisp Fall afternoon over Summer vacation any day. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a toddler gazing longingly out the back window, piles of leaves that aren’t going to jump in themselves, and a rapidly-cooling latte to chug.