I used to view the phrase “acting like a toddler” as fairly innocuous. Then I became a parent, which provided fresh perspective.
Acting like a toddler means that you are acting like you have a free pass at life. It means that you don’t care about ANYBODY or what they might think.
Some people might call this a healthy perspective, but I am here to remind you that there are rules in place for a reason — because adults aren’t half as charming as the little people who act this way on a regular basis. When toddlers act this way we can say “Awww,” and move along. When adults act this way, the rest of the world wants to collectively punch them in the face.
Next time you see a child crying uncontrollably in the grocery store because his mother bought the wrong type of macaroni and cheese, mentally age this person by 30 years and picture them acting this way in front of their significant other. I wonder how long that marriage would last?
Think about how different the world would look if we allowed adults to act like they had a free pass at life. No rules, no boundaries, and pure joy. But alas, we have significant others, bosses and friends to keep our basest behaviors in check. It may not feel like it at the time, but they are really doing you a favor.
Without any rules or boundaries my day might look like this:
- When Meg and I are having a conversation about dinner and she says “Do you want tacos?” I could shake my head violently and say “No, this??!!!” I would do this while pointing at nothing in particular. I would then expect her to read my mind and know exactly what I’m talking about.
- I work at a computer all day. This has been shown to lead to an unhealthy lifestyle, unless you can break it up with small exercises throughout the day. I could get up from my desk at work and run across the room while yelling loudly until I hit the other side. Never mind my coworkers.
- Next time I’m somewhere in public, like the doctor’s office, I could stand up, straighten my limbs, and rhythmically shake my butt, while smiling widely the whole time. Generous people would call this dancing. When the song ends I would then run up to the receptionist and say “Again? Again? Again?”
- I could go out for dinner in a fancy restaurant and order the ribs, while leaving my napkin unused, right there on the table. I might say the word “messy” but it would be in a way that makes it clear that I really don’t care. Instead of using the napkin I would then rub my hands on my face and straight through my hair.
- I could narrate my entire existence. I could use phrases such as “I write,” or “I work out,” or “I eat now,” over and over and over again. The loved ones surrounding me need the up-to-the-minute update on everything I do.
None of these things would be awkward for a grown man in his 30s, right? Nobody would care?