There’s a big girl coming: counting a toddler’s attractions


Boo with our school-aged neighbor. This is how I usually see the two of them: backs out to the rest of the world, completely fascinated with each other.

Put Boobaby (28 months old, you’ll remember) together with 6- and 10-year old brothers in the back seat of a car and guess who comes out crying from the tussle and smoke that we probably should have expected in the first place?

If you guessed “the 6-year old,” you’d be right.

It’s not that Boo is especially rough — well, not usually, anyway. No, she’s just reacting to the stirring in her toddler soul of a “big girl” struggling to get out.

Boo hangs with the big kids when she can, I’ve often noted. What I can’t figure out is this: Just what these 4-, 5-, and 6- year olds see in her?

Daddy, maybe. ****Some kids are probably after me more than Boo, not for the witty repartee (seriously) but for the fact that I’ll push ’em on the merry-go-round. If Boobaby comes along for the ride, so be it.

Or Pet, perhaps? ****Four-year olds, and especially girls, and especially girls who are themselves little sisters, seem to seek out Boo as a surrogate dependent of their own. Boo does the same thing with her dolls. The pet-seekers don’t play with her so much as… take custody.

Or… friend-friend. Seriously. ****Finally, of course, some of the older kids really seem to want to be Boobaby’s friend. Buddy Boy is like this — sure, he likes me, too, but it’s really my daughter he’s after. And the 6-year old who lives nearby, too — when they meet, I mostly see their backs, like in the picture.

So what does it mean that Boo makes unusual choices in friends — or that they make unusual choices in her? Nothing more, probably, than that “friendship” for our 2-year old is largely about who will play with her in the rowdy, roisterous way she likes.

Sure, that means that Boobaby’ll hang with the big kids if they’ll let her, but maybe a pair of Welsh corgis is just as good. And if you’re a big kid in the back seat with her — watch out. She holds her own.