They are utter hedonists. The toddler: I want ketchup with my muffin. I will only eat the icing off the cake. I demand that you wrap me in that fluffy towel and carry me around like a baby. The teenager: I'll eat frozen berries all day, while lounging in my dressing gown in a darkened room.
They are experimenting with the world. The toddler: I want to see how that ketchup feels rubbed over my cheeks and legs. I want to see what happens when I overflow the bathroom sink. I like to unravel all the toilet paper. The teenager: I wonder what happens when I eat frozen berries all day, in a darkened room.
The defiance. The toddler: I won't get in that side of the car. I want Daddy to read me a story, not you! I wanted jam on that other piece of toast, not this one! The teenager: Yeah I'll tidy my room, like, never.
Incentives don't work. The toddler: If you don't get your pyjamas on now, there won't be any bedtime stories. I don't want a bedtime story!! The teenager: If you don't do your chores, you can't go over to X's house. [Nonchalant shrug].
You may have difficulty getting them to bathe. The toddler: I don't want a bath! Don't wash my face! The teenager: Lynx is my friend, showers are not.
They are so emo. So emo. Need I say more?
They have strange sleep habits. The toddler: likes to go to sleep with the light on, would prefer to stay up late and will still wake you in the night, occasionally has difficulty rising in the morning. The teenager: will fall asleep in front of the computer if you let him, wants to stay up late, is almost impossible to get out of bed in the mornings.
In short, they will drive you crazy. But every once in a while, they will let their guard down, and stop being defiant, emo and difficult. Perhaps while they're asleep, perhaps at a creche or school dropoff where they're suddenly struck with uncertainty on not seeing their friends. You will get a glimpse of their achingly gorgeous vulnerability, and it will make your breath catch in your throat.