Today’s post comes from Barbara in Robbinsdale.

I was helping my mom clean out her bedroom closet the other day, and we came upon an envelope with pages she had jotted down in pencil between 1949 and 1951. I was the elder child, and “got her to myself” for four years before I was de-throned, and she had time to do this:

Autumn 1949 (age 1½)

Sang “Ho Ho Ho” (Up on a Housetop) when she heard Mother singing. Puckered up lips till she looked like a fish.

Heard soap opera [on radio] in which someone was crying “Oh, No, No!”, so she had to say “No No” for about two minutes straight.

Her first movie “Adventure in Baltimore” when actress said “up there” emphatically. Barby thought she was saying “upstairs”, so she said it too (ah-dee).

First time she attended church service, good for the first half hour, then started crawling under the seat. Began to dance to the organ music when we walked in.

Runs along behind me and laughs when I’m wiping off clothes lines.

Found a wash cloth and started dusting the furniture with it, wood, upholstery and all. I thought it was plenty smart of her till I picked her up and she wiped my face with it.

One day when I took her upstairs for her nap, I put her in the rocking chair while I changed the sheet on her crib. When I was almost through she jumped out of the chair and walked downstairs as fast as she could, chuckling all the way.

Threw her toy doggie down the basement stairs, then went down after him, saying all the way “Hi Dizzie.”

Winter ’49-’50 (20 months)

Found her down on the floor saying “Hi” to a box-elder bug.

After watching me peel potatoes one day when she pulled a chair up to the sink, she tried putting the peelings back through the peeler.

Decided a graham cracker cookie tastes better if she pulls it apart, licks off the frosting and throws the cracker on the floor.

Winter 1950-51 (age 2½)

Asked where Grandma Sterling was, and when I said “In Sioux City” she said “No, she’s in da picture”. I guess Grandma can’t be both places at once.

Her prayers at age 3: “Now I lay me… God bless Mommy and Daddy and Grampa and Grandma Britson and Grampa and Grandma Sterling and all da people in da world, and da babies and da chickens.”

Sings and plays: “do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do”. Her repertoire: nursery rhymes, Christmas songs, Frosty the Snowman, Here Comes Peter Cottontail, I Love You a Bushel and a Peck, Zing Zing Zoom Zoom My Little Heart Goes Boom.

An oldest child may also find more photos of themselves than the younger children.

What evidence or memory (yours or someone else’s) exists somewhere that you were a toddler?


104 thoughts on “Toddlerhood”

  1. Morning all –

    Starting off with an OT – from Mike P

    The first broadcast of “Keepers By Request” is Friday, Sept. 4th at noon. We’ll repeat it Sunday, Sept. 6th at 7pm.

    (I will repeat this up until next Friday!!)

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Good morning. I was the oldest of two. I am sure there are some pictures of me as a young toddler. I am older than my brother by 2 years so I was an only child for 2 years. I would need to look through our collection of old pictures to be sure that I have any from those first two years. All of the pictures I remember are pictures of me when I was more than two years old.

    I was born in 1941 when my parents lived in a small house in Prairie Du Sac, WI. I don’t have any details about my first two years living in that house. I have a few memories of living there from when I was 4 years old. The house is still there and I was able to find it a few years ago so I know a little about where I lived during my first two years. I remember seeing a book my mother had in which some information about my birth was recorded. I don’t know of any other evidence or memories covering my first two years.


  3. I am the youngest and Mom, so far as I know, was not one for writing down details. There is photographic evidence of me as a toddler (which also provides proof that my hair was once straight – see my avatar), so I know I once was one. I have vague memories of preschool (and wondering why my paint shirt was so much smaller than everyone else’s…not putting together that it wasn’t that I was that much bigger, but that my dad was that much smaller than the other dads). Actual toddler-hood – not so much.


  4. Charming post, Barb.

    I was an only child for 3 years (are most Baboons oldest children, hmmmm). I have no memories of this, but you’ve just given me a good blog post idea.

    Anyway, I do have one picture of me, sitting on my little tricycle with my arms flung high and a great smile on my face. I have no context for it-maybe I got the trike for my birthday?

    I think I need to scan that into the computer today.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Yes, there is a virtual shrine to my toddlerhood in my mother’s pictures, although she never took the time to write about cute things I said or did. Just pictures, pieces of clothing, locks of hair, and church memorabilia (such as “The Cradle Roll” and baptism certificate). And Mom’s unending lamentation that I was not born a boy. Sigh. I never did appreciate that one much.

    It did not end with me. My sister and brother both have many pictures, etc. of their toddlerhood.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Not all Baboons are the oldest – I am the middle of three. My folks were good about photos as there are plenty of me as baby and toddler. Mom started a baby book but it stops well before my first birthday. My younger sister didn’t fare as well. She apparently sprang forth fully formed as a toddler – we can’t find any baby pics – and no baby book. I have only vague memories before the age of about four.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. And another here. I was the eldest and only grandchild as well as child. During the war when my dad was in Europe my mother and I lived with her parents in St. James. None of my parents siblings were married at the time, my father’s parents lived on a farm outside St. James. My sister, born seven+ years later, probably labels me with a “princess complex.” I have many, many photos of me, no doubt taken to send to my father.
    Some of my favorites are of me standing holding on to my “blankie” which was on the clothesline with my thumb in my mouth. Couldn’t bare to be parted with it, apparently. Another is my uncle, seven years older than me, at the bathroom window sticking his tongue out at me where I stood outside on the basement doors (remember the ones that were slanted at ground level?). Another favorite is me with my father’s father learning to “sharpen” knives on the whetstone wheel. (Working on a post about that grandfather….).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. im wondering if the tactile thumbsuckers of the world have been replaced by vidiots who use their hands to control electronic devices instead of sticking them in their mouth and figuring out life as was done in the good old days. thumbsucking was a daydreaming kind of thing. it created an aire of individuality. my brother sucked one had two particular fingers and twisted his hair with the other hand. my sister was a thumbsucker. i was a lipsucker. i was told this was because i started running before i could walk and did the face plant where my lip was always needing tlc. my wife still twists her hair.
      oh im an oldest


    2. Crazy. My grandmother was from St. James and my grandfather taught high school there shortly after he graduated from college. If you knew any Lokkens or Lowers there, that would be my family. (There was a family outside of town that was sort of adopted family…I think they informally fostered my great-grandfather, but I’ve been fuzzy on the details…Erpestads I think was the name.)


  8. My grandfather was a professional photographer. Many of his photos were staged stereotypes that suited the tastes of the times (the times would be the 1930s and 1940s). My gravatar photo is one of many he took of me as an infant and later as a child. I have many memories from when I was three and four, some documented with photos but many not.

    In 1945 my mother created a book of ten photos my grandfather shot showing an average day in Manchester, Iowa. This was her Christmas present to my father, who was off in the Philippines fighting WW II, so he could only dream of what a normal day for his family might be like. My mother annotated each photo with a poem. Alas, this book didn’t make the trip to Oregon. One photo shows three-year-old Stevie in foot pajamas, kneeling to say his nightly prayers. My mother’s note for this photo was this:

    8:00 PM
    Now I lay me down to sleep
    (and gimme a cracker will yuh?)
    I pray the Lord my soul to keep
    (why does I hafta go to bed when I’m not sleepy?)
    If I should die
    (You died the fly with your swatter, didnt ja Mommy?)
    Before I wake
    (Where’s my tractor?)
    I pray the Lord
    (No, I don’t haffta go-go Mommy)
    My soul to take
    (I’se awful thirsty)
    And bless Mommy and Daddy and Nancy
    and Nownie and Clarence
    and Grampa and Gramma Grooms
    and all the cows
    and all the piggies.

    I have a secret to share later in the day, but I’ll keep that secret for a few hours before the big reveal.

    Liked by 6 people

  9. Another favorite is a framed series of photos taken by a professional trying to get me to smile…I have that hanging on the wall as a reminder of how stubborn I can be. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very few of my childhood photos show me smiling. I was shy, and that’s apparent n the photos. Also, as a little girl I was scared out of my wits most of the time, that, too, is evident in the photos.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. My parents decided each of the three of us should have professional portraits at age 2.

      I’m told my experience involved many tears and if you look, you can see them welled up at the lower edge of my eyes.

      Otherwise, I look like a model little toddler with perfect hair and clothes.


  10. I am an only child and my life was documented ad nauseum with photos. When I cleared out my parents house last year I found the album with all my first year birthday cards as well as the congratulatory cards upon the occasion of my birth. That got tossed. I kept most photos but tossed quite a few. I have yet to review all the slides my dad had taken of my early life. Perhaps this winter if the slide projector still works.

    Son was premature and we took many photos and documented his development much the way my parents documented mine. Daughter, who came along 9 years later, contends we never took a photo of her nor documented anything about her early life. That isn’t true, but we certainly didn’t do as much as we did for our son.

    I have lots of early memories, the earliest being a tantrum I had at about age two. I remember the place (the Mrs. Schoon’s living room), and the trigger (my father commenting that I was having such a good time maybe I should stay at Mrs. Schoon’s house and not go home). What I don’t recall is pitching a fit when they took me home anyway and breaking out in hives because I was so angry.

    I also recall being in Mrs. Schoon’s garage at about age 3 (poor, long suffering Mrs. Schoon) when I realized I had to pee and there was a big puddle of water on the garage floor so I decided to pee right there in the puddle because no one would ever know what I had done.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Renee and Steve, it’s very affirming to me that you both remember things from very early on. When, as an adult, I would tell mom about some of my memories she would claim that it never happened, or that I couldn’t possibly remember. But I’m very certain that I do. Often these were very insignificant incidences, incidences like you tantrum, that there doesn’t appear to be any logical explanation for why you remember it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. PJ, thanks. I am somewhat suspicious of my memories of moments that were recorded with photos. I think seeing the photo can give me the sense that i remember the moment. But I have a great many detailed, vivid memories from ages 3-5 that have no photo record. And as you might know, playing around in the remote corners of early memory is one of my hobbies.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh no. Mrs. Schoon was so nice. As I remember, she just said “Renee, what are you doing out there”? as I ran home.


  11. I, too, am the older of two, my sister arriving 27 months after my birth. I have seen a few photos of me as a baby and as a toddler, but I don’t have them so they must be in my sister’s possession. I was born in England in the middle of WWII, I’m guessing that explains why there are very few photos to document my toddlerhood. And mom didn’t write anything down, or save old toys, books or drawings.

    There are quite a few photos of my sister and me from when I’m around four and she two years old. Mom’s best friend in Stubbekøbing was Mammie Lorentzen. Mammie was married to the town’s only professional photographer, so we have quite a few official portraits of my sister and me, and of us both together with mom. These were annual or special occasion photos and we’d be dressed in our Sunday best, no doubt portraits taken to send to dad who was at sea and to mom’s family in Ireland.

    From this time, there are also a number of snapshots of me learning to ride my bicycle; me pushing my very fancy doll’s pram (custom made for me out of plexiglass); me – in my hand-knit swimsuit – dragging my feet and sulking as I’m approaching my mother, who has my sister on her lap, to have my face spit washed; and me standing behind our push lawn mower. There are other photos of the family at the beach, sitting on a blanket eating lunch. Very few of these photos have my dad in them, mostly because he wasn’t there, or if he was, he was the one taking the picture.

    I remember vividly the taking of these photos. For instance, the one of me learning to ride my bike, with auntie Kathleen (Mammie’s only daughter) running along holding onto the broom handle in back of the seat to steady me. Guess we didn’t know about training wheels. Dad took that photo. The one behind the lawn mower was taken by uncle Leo, one of my dad’s stepbrothers. He also took the one of me with the doll’s buggy.

    Like Steve, I remember quite a few “snapshots” from very early on, most of them with no photographic evidence.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Photos of course. One specifically is of me with a beer in one hand and a carbine in the other. The posing was courtesy of my Dad and his Air force buddies. There was some crisis and all base personnel were required to have a rifle with them at all times. One small problem: No ammunition was issued. Mom didn’t appreciate the joke.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Last of three spread over 7 years. Born 44. 44-48 were unsettled, struggling years for my parents. Very few pictures of me, which my sister for whatever reason does not share with me, except for three. From the first moment I am aware I was aware of a camera, I hated having my photo taken and still do. Mother kept scrapbooks of first two. My toddler years were not easy for her, unsettled life, surrounded by nut cases, like her mother.
    OT: yesterday wrote last sentence of second novel, draft 1, a decent draft.

    Liked by 6 people

  14. The photos are pretty much all of my three-years-older sister. Perhaps I was an unusually ugly toddler. 😉

    Actually, my parents were having a house built during this time, and we moved into an apartment for a year after the previous house sold. I imagine this was probably a stressful time for my mother. Moving twice with two small children.

    BiR, I can really see you dancing down the church aisle to the organ music. Like.

    OT, I will be at the Humane Society booth at the Pet Center if you happen to be at the fair in the late afternoon or evening.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. i am son of a susie cream cheese mom. typical movie star wanna be with the ute hairdo and dresses. we lived in the burbs when we moved to minneapolis in 57 at age 3. in brainerd we lived in a littel house on the river and in fargo i dont remember a thing. my mom took zillions of pictures and had the baby books with all the first steps first words first cute stuff and i was a good candidate for charting. lots of stuff to enter. my brother came along next and she wondered what was wrong with him. he just laid there. no similarities at all. i remember lots of stuff form brainerd and lots of stuff from moving into the house in bloomington in 57. i loved childhood and would go back in a minute. life doesnt get better than living it as the sole mission of the day.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Reminds me of Husbands older sibs – first one got on a Mpls. bus as a toddler… got home safely, but she had her hands full. Sister born a year later was (for the moment) a pleasant surprise – M-i-l could sit her down somewhere, and she would stay there!


  16. OT- dear resourceful Baboons of the culinary sort:

    Did my first round of grape harvesting to make some sorbet. They are quite juicy, taste good and if my sticky fingers are and indicator, full of sugar.

    Problem is that the resulting pulp is not a lovely purple but more a greenish brown. Don’t have black currents or black raspberries or I’d toss those in and cross my fingers.

    Have both red currents and red raspberries, but not sure that will help.

    Would prefer not to resort to food coloring, but will if I have to.



      1. The skins don’t look especially purple either. I pureed the grapes whole then ran them through the strainer.

        Should I maybe now cook the leftover skins a bit?

        Off to try that….


        1. That or some commercial grape juice concentrate.

          Cooking down the skins gave a nice color that has tinged the pulp a slightly better pinkish brown I will live with for this batch. Smells and tastes lovely. Thanks Renee and Barb.

          There are a lot more grapes out there, so will keep wirking on this.


  17. I was born in Detroit and lived there for 3 years (by which time mig’s childhood was over 😦 )
    I carried a memory of a bell that rang every afternoon. I think it was associated with a church or convent. The memory was carried forward with an image of looking out the kitchen window to see a bell hanging in the sky.
    Some memories may not be completely reliable.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. OT-again.

    In the continuing saga of why I will never go to Cedar Rapids again: just got ANOTHER demand for payment IMMEDIATELY!!!!!

    the check is in fact in the mail. If they wanted payment on time, it would help if I got the notice BEFORE the due date.

    If you have questions, you can call a number that is not taking calls and leave your number, or you can pay on their website.

    Not bloody likely.

    Just going to sit back and wait for that check to clear, meanwhile, sending a letter to the race organizers explaining why we won’t be participating again.


      1. I suspect they send these out purposely late so you will panic and pay on-line immediately with a credit card. The check is in the mail.

        The website cannot be accessed unless you put in your citation number (and is suspect then you email them and “they’ll get back to you”).

        Instead I emailed the race organizers telling them exactly why we will not be attemding their otherwise excellent event next year.

        From what I could see, Cedar Rapids is in no position to alienate visitors.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. You are intent on protecting your credit rating, mig, and that speaks well of you. I just discovered I have a fairly low credit rating. And I’m fuming about it. My rating is low because I don’t have a lot of credit cards, bank accounts or consumer debt. I never charge anything and always pay bills on time. I paid off a big loan a year ago, but that doesn’t improve my rating, it seems. This is so stupid.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Steve, I really hope I never again need to borrow money, but would hate to not be able to. And I have a boy about to start applying to colleges….

          And yes, that system is really ridiculous. I remember getting a nasty letter from the credit card people stating they were going to have to report me for “credit abuse”, because I had not used the card in over a year.

          So now I make sure I charge up at least one tank of car/year on the thing. It’s getting harder and harder to pay cash for gas anymore. It can be done, but if you want to fill the tank, you hand them a pile of money, fill the tank, then go back in to get your change.

          Saints forfend your every purchase is not optimized to sell you more!!!


  19. I’m another first child; 4 years older than my first brother, 5 years later came brother #2 and finally, my sister when I was 16. Mom liked to keep a baby in the house. Mom often deferred to me, saying if my ideas were good it shouldn’t matter that I was a child.

    I’m way behind on the blog. I’ve been “as sick as a man” since Saturday. Made it back to work for a short day yesterday and will call it quits early today as well. Plans to hit the fair today have gone by the wayside.


      1. Oh yes, BiR. My youngest brother was a handful and my primary responsibility when he was little was to be on Larry Duty; he called me Doodie because of that. I was a baby care pro when my little sister made her entrance.


        1. My dad’s oldest sister was 10 years his senior – basically his mom… when she got married at age 20, he cried because he thought she was going far away and he wouldn’t see her again. (She went 10 miles away…)


  20. I was a first and only child for the first sixteen years of my life, whereupon my parents adopted my sister. I have lots of photos of myself as a baby and toddler. As the designated inheritee of family memorabilia, I have my bronzed baby shoes and letters to Santa. I also have photos of both my parents as babies and ones of my grandmother as a baby and girl.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I can reveal now. BiR’s lead blog today is very close to a topic I once offered. It might amuse someone to go back to compare stories. My blog was called “Ah Yes I Remember It Well” and it ran June 4, 2012. One of the Baboons made a stunning revelation, and the rest of us were moved.


  22. Hey all… back from doing a Mississippi River paddleboat trip with Nonny. Lovely day for it.

    I am the oldest but because my folks were flat broke (my dad was in law school) the usual dynamic is backwards. Almost no photos of me since they didn’t have the money for film and processing, but lots more of my middle sister. Boatloads of my baby sister after my folks’ boat came in.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. My my…..learning today that I may be the only 2nd child explains why I’ve often felt like the forum’s odd one. As a typical 2nd child, I always viewed my brother as near-perfect. Consequently, I felt lesser all the way through. For many years, I honestly thought that I was adopted from feeling like the odd one out in my family. It took me decades to move past my feelings of being the “lesser one”, but when I finally did, he and I could finally be good friends. Prior to that, I chased after my parent’s approval and his.

    As I’ve written before, my few memories don’t match up to our mutual childhood. That, I’ve learned, is because mine are emotional memories and his conscious memories. It took a lot of therapy to understand the difference and accept that this was OK. In other words, both are “real”.

    My first experience that I only know because the family told me over and over is that of slamming down my dad’s army hat on his lap and telling him, “Go home, Man!” after this total stranger came into my world hugging my mother. It’s the first time I’d seen him at age two and a half. I actually have a pathetic photo of me in that army hat, standing in my dad’s army boots looking so lost that it still brings tears to my eyes at times.

    I look at that tiny little girl and feel great compassion and I wish that I could go back in time, scoop her up, and tell her how loved she is.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m a younger sister, too. I think the only two people who were disappointed that I was not more like my big brother were my 4th grade teacher (I fussed about my assigned reading being too easy – brother apparently put up with what he was assigned) and a band teacher (Big Brother still occasionally gets notes from him…I get nothing because I quit band mid-year to get away from the snotty girls in the flute section).

      Liked by 3 people

    2. I think you join K-two in being the second child, CB, she being “the middle of three.” That must have been a bit traumatic seeing this strange man come in and hug your mother… never thought of what that must have been like for LOTS of little kids when their dads came home.


  24. Hi–
    Busy day for me; just getting here.
    A great post today and terrific responses.

    I am the youngest of 5. Fifteen years separate me and my oldest sister. Eight years between me and my next up brother.
    I believe that makes me the perfect example of an ‘Oops’ baby.

    And there’s a few pictures of me. More after about age 10, but a few of toddler me.
    I think probably there were more pictures taken, but mom either cut off my head or had her thumb over the lens…

    Liked by 3 people

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