Yes, kids do say the “darndest” things. They also openly (and often quite proudly) discuss – or even announce – their bodily functions for all the room, or crowded grocery store, or greater downtown area, to hear.
And isn’t this part of what makes childhood so beautiful? Kids haven’t quite mastered many of the “social graces” that adults are conditioned to exhibit. They aren’t quite so confined by an expected code of conduct. And even if they know what’s expected of them in any given situation, they often don’t yet have the necessary impulse control to do what they are “supposed” to do instead of whatever they feel like doing in the moment.
As the parent to an almost-3-year-old, oh man, am I living this topic to the extreme right now. My little one, incredibly “polite” and obedient from a very early age, is now so deep into toddlerhood that it almost daily makes me laugh with delight and cry with frustration, sometimes simultaneously.
Take, for instance, last week, when she described to me that her underpants were stuck up her butt. Naturally, I told her there was a name for that, and that it was called a “wedgie.” She giggled with delight and subsequently started pulling her dress up, sticking her hand down the back of her underpants, and shouting, “I have a mudgie!” any ole place she felt like it.
Sometimes they’re hilarious, often they’re awkward, and we all know they’re abundant: Here are 15 “inappropriate” things kids do that are actually completely normal.
15 Stare Without Shame
I think the more “writerly” you are, the longer and later in life you allow yourself to do this one without pausing to consider that maybe it’s awkward or might make someone else uncomfortable. It’s staring, with zero stealth, at someone new, different, or in any way interesting to you in the moment.
“It’s not polite to stare!” a 1950s mother’s voice rings out in my imagination.
But it is pretty natural. People are on a never-ending quest for knowledge. Through careful and constant observation, they learn about the people, places, and things in this world, the better to carry on with this journey called life.
Kids (especially young kids and babies) are so intent on this process that they’ll lock in on a person or object and not be distracted from staring at it or dissuaded from grabbing it, no matter what.
14 Put On An Itchy And Scratchy Show
Adults (not to be sexist, but women, anyway) would never reach down to their crotches or rear ends and shamelessly scratch away at an itch caused by skin irritation, underwear, or who knows what. Not in public, anyway.
But moms and dads don’t even bat an eye anymore when they see kids reach down and scratch, tug, or pull away until comfort is achieved – because they do it all the time.
We might quietly nudge our own children’s hands away, say, “hands off please,” or explain that it’s not okay to do that in public if we notice them doing it.
But hey, what’s the most natural and normal thing in the world to do when you have an itch? Why, scratch it, of course!
Remind me to include this as well if I ever write an article justifying the more baffling behaviors of husbands.
13 Loudly Pass Gas
Celebrity chef Alton brown found this really beautifully roundabout way to describe something humans and other animals do quite often – but very rarely talk about in polite company. I don’t remember exactly how it went, but it started with said humans consuming foods that don’t quite as easily break down as others, bacteria in the digestive system going to work on the food particles, and gases being produced in the process.
When this gas needs to escape, adults often do anything they can to hold it in until they are alone, preferably in a bathroom – or to let it out very, very stealthily.
Kids are a different story. When they’re babies (mine, yesterday), they let it rip without pause, and it echoes gloriously through the quiet library. When they’re toddlers, they might then proudly proclaim, “I tooted!” with a beaming smile. And as they get older, they might fart intentionally to get a laugh, stink up a room, or have a good time in general. Why? Because it’s not only a necessary bodily function – it’s also funny!
12 Eat Every Meal Like No One’s Watching
Adults love to see this one. Videos go viral every few months of little tikes sneezing spaghetti, rubbing pea soup into their flaxen hair, playing Lady and the Tramp with the family dog and a dish of noodles, or throwing fistfuls of food in their family’s faces.
Were adults to behave in this manner – or were adults to take kids behaving in this manner to many restaurants – it would be considered quite inappropriate, and certainly rather rude.
But when kids devour a plate of mashed potatoes like a dog hungrily chomping up kibble, it’s because they’re hungry, and that makes perfect sense. And they’re probably having fun!
When a little girl shoves her whole arm into the shared snack bag and then crams her whole fist into her mouth to get the food in there, she’s simply finding the most effective way to get the job done – without dropping any, we might add.
11 Grab Those Eye-Catching Milk Makers
One of the first times I held a baby as an adult – the art director at my office had brought his in for a short while – the kid delighted in being handed off to me, a smiling, soft, cuddly woman, and then went right for the grab.
His dad laughed a bit awkwardly and our officemates didn’t quite know what to say. We all just giggled and moved on.
But really, my girls were just (quite effectively, I might add) doing their job. Yes, if you get anthropological with it, you realize that these “dirty pillows” are intended to be an outward symbol to potential mates that I have healthy and healthily distributed fat stores, the better to nourish a child and continue the father’s genetic line.
And they’re meant to entice babies, clearly, as well, the better for them to eat, survive, and thrive!
10 Tell Untruths
Discussing this lately with a group of mom friends, we reassured each other that it was actually a developmental milestone when our toddlers looked us straight in the eyes and lied to us – and that my tot was actually ahead of the pack in beginning to do so – so blatantly and so shamelessly – at such a young age.
If your little one, too, stands in your bedroom at 9 o’clock at night and says with a straight face, “I wasn’t in your room! I was in my bed,” well then before you get too angry, before you wonder what you’re doing wrong to raise such a little liar, know that things are likely going just right.
Just think of the social awareness and mental skill needed to realize that telling the truth would not benefit oneself in any given situation… and the creativity and bravado needed to come up with a fib and deliver it convincingly on the spot, and under the pressure of glaring parental eyes.
9 Announce The Need To Go
Why does my toddler announce at full volume that she needs to go use the potty? Because some of the time – especially when we’re out and about in the world – she needs my help to do so. It’s as simple as that!
More and more frequently when we’re together at home, she’ll simply get up, leave the room, disappear to the bathroom, and then come back again – but she usually cannot resist bragging to me after the fact about whatever business she has just successfully transacted – ALL BY HERSELF!
And that’s natural, because that’s how we condition them to behave. We give great praise when they realize they have to pee or poop, make it to the toilet in time, get those tricky pants and undergarments down, let it out, wipe up, and pull everything back up again. It’s a complicated (if very natural) process to learn, and they should be proud!
8 Proudly Mine For Nose Gold
Adults may turn and blow their noses into a tissue. They may slightly “scratch” their noses while driving. But it’s all with the aim of getting something really uncomfortable – and potentially obstructive to breathing – out of there: the booger.
You would probably never stick your finger in your nose, dig around for a good while, exam your clear, green, slimy, crusty, or sticky findings, and then proudly present them to someone nearby. That would generally be considered impolite and, quite frankly, gross.
But kids aren’t thinking about preventing the spread of germs, or not offending some delicate soul. Nope, their perfectly normal and natural priority is to get that poky, crusty, gummy thing out of there and to breathe easy again. And might as well marvel at what they’ve produced, because it’s really rather interesting!
7 Tell It Like It Is
“Hey, Mom, that lady has a mustache!” shouts your 7-year-old, for said woman and everyone else in the store to hear. Substitute “has a mustache” with “is super fat!” or “just farted!” or “smells really stinky” or many other possible phrases, and you’ve probably also got yourself a fairly common scenario.
It benefits kids, from a really early age, to be able to point out which thing is different, and then to want to know why some things and people are different than others, the better to understand and then more successfully navigate through their world.
So whether or not it’s considered rude or even hurtful to blare out what they’ve noticed or what they think about a given situation, blare it out they do.
If they think someone’s stupid or ugly, if that dude that just walked by has a toilet seat cover hanging out of his pants, they’re gonna tell it like it is – and hey, that guy will probably appreciate it!
6 Burst Into Tears
Have you ever been driving home from work, in the middle of an important meeting, at a doctor’s appointment, or having a conversation with a family member, friend, or complete stranger and felt like you could just burst into tears? Maybe they said something that really offended or frustrated you. Maybe they brought up a memory or topic that made you extremely emotional. And it’s natural and healthy to cry when you feel sad, overwhelmed, or frustrated – but do we? Nope. We clench up and – as tightly as we can – hold it in.
Thinking of it from this angle, it seems a bit more natural that your toddler or young child seems to so randomly burst into tears, huh?
Things might be going great as you prepare lunch and your son plays happily in the corner – and then, as if by magic, something changes. He shrieks and wails as if in terrible pain, turns bright red, and tears stream down his chubby little cheeks. Why? He couldn’t get the triangle to fit into the bucket at that angle. Life can be pretty hard.
5 Belt Out Tunes Any Time
Very young people and then also getting-older people tend to do this one, leaving the rest of the age groups to scratch their heads in confusion.
Whether in a movie theater, walking down the grocery store aisle, taking a dump, or eating a grilled cheese, kids will break into song. Sometimes it’s the theme from their favorite show or movie, or sometimes it’s a catchy tune from school or story time at the library earlier that week (and man, can they remember music accurately after only hearing it once or twice!).
Heck, a lot of the time it’s just some little ditty that they’re making up as they go!
And why not let the music ring out? Singing is a form of emotional expression and entertainment. Whey not communicate your thoughts and feelings in this creatively expressive way?
Well, because if you were an adult alone singing about which shoes you were buying, people might think you’d gone mad. But, hey, it’s actually pretty natural!
4 LOL At Their Own Jokes
My little girl recently started to do this one, too, and it’s one of the cuter things I’ve ever witnessed. She not only started laughing really, really hard and really very authentically again lately (as babies often do when you make fart noises with your mouth or shake your hair around); she also started laughing out loud at her own jokes – sometimes the ones in her head.
We were on a quiet walk around the neighborhood when she suddenly burst out in an eruption of hardy giggles. When I asked her what was so funny, she muttered something about trees.
How fun that kids don’t yet feel they need to hold in their laughter. Whether others present will get the joke or not, and no matter who will think it’s funny, they embrace their playful natures where boring old adults would hide them.
3 Repeat Like A Parrot
Saucy American comedic sitcom The League has a recurring character named Ellie. She’s 4 or 5 years old when the series begins, and she’s the daughter of one of the participants in the Fantasy Football league all of the storylines revolve around.
Her trademark move? Repeating all the filthy language that she hears. And there’s plenty going around, amid heated matchups and sex jokes and shit talking galore.
While we may scold or look down with shock when a child repeats dirty words, well, what do we expect?
Many babies begin to use language to their advantage by the time they’re 9 months old! And how do they learn to communicate? Why, repeating the sounds they express that get a good reaction, first of all, and then beyond that, repeating what they hear!
2 Scream On A Whim
If you currently have a toddler, you may wish to skip over this one, as it’s likely to make your blood boil and that vein in your forehead start throbbing again.
It’s the scream, and apparently the children in my family have, as many a doctor and nurse have put it, “very good lungs!”
Whether in pain or out of frustration, fear, or anger, they’ll open their mouths and emit the most piercing, urgent, awful sound you’re likely ever to have heard. And the bigger the reaction they get, sometimes the more often they’ll do it.
And that’s exactly why it makes so much sense. It’s perfectly normal to experiment with what you can do to really get the attention of your mom, your dad, and others.
It’s all part of learning to play this game called life.
1 Have Filter-Free Free-For-Alls
Beyond pointing out something potentially embarrassing about someone else without giving any consideration to how it might make others react or feel, kids also have a quite glorious way of just saying whatever the heck they are thinking.
Sometimes it comes in the form of a random statement. If an adult were to interrupt the dinner conversation with, “Remember that elephant?” (referencing a trip to the zoo three weeks ago that somehow popped into her head), polite company may wonder what was wrong with her.
But kids see no need to follow such a boring logical flow of conversation. They have no desire to censor themselves so that someone else can understand them better or have a less awkward time.
And that’s great! May those little brains keep growing and those little wheels keep turning as new connections and associations are formed.