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Toddler rock, paper, scissors

One of my favorite things about having a toddler...yes, there are very fun things about having one!...is watching Cole's preferences change over time. Each day brings an interesting election-style ratings chart of who is beating who in the battle for is attention and favor.

We'll leave favorite parent aside for now, that's a whole other topic. I'm talking more about prunes and sweet potatoes. Leda has eaten 2 full jars of prunes in the last 2 meals. One of the few foods that makes her smile. Cole used to be the same way. In fact, he also loved sweet potato at that age. He'd eat it every meal if we'd let him. Last night, however, we made baked sweet potatoes for dinner--the full treatment with butter and brown sugar. And Cole took one bite before spitting it out all over the living room carpet.

Apple trumps all. He loves an apple. Grapes and blueberries are up there. Oatmeal will beat peanut butter sandwich usually, but rarely rice and beans. Pasta used to trump even apple, but pasta has fallen out of favor lately with the exception of a promise for massive amounts of cheese on top.

Thomas trumps all. Followed, usually, by Curious George--the cartoon not the book--but George seems to depend on mood. Elmo beats Cat in the Hat. Dinosaur Train used to be a strong top five, but lately full length movies have moved in...he'd prefer Monsters, Inc..

Non-kid he doesn't mind when the news is on...it's a neutral bedtime prep for him. But he'd rather have Doctor Who. He made us turn Harry Potter off for being too scary.

He likes to pick his own shirt, but not necessarily his own pants. He liked sandals better than sneakers.

And the beauty of all this is that we force very little on him. We're not strong-arm parents who quietly manipulate behind the scenes...though there may be a few episodes of Looney Tunes or Animaniacs that have been skillfully removed from his collection of choices. Watching your kids have preferences...not just likes and dislikes, but developing downright favorites...is one of my favorite things about being a dad. Seeing them act and think independently at 2--or even Leda starting at one--is amazing. It's even altered some of my opinions about parenting and children in general. How to educate them. What is best for them. What good parenting looks like.

Personally, I see my job as encouraging his exploration. The fun is wondering what is going on in his little brain as the world flies by. He loves to point things out and name them now. Or just let us know he has seen them.

But Thomas trumps all.

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