If Oprah gets her favorite things, Wally Ben decided he’d like to have his own list—a list of a random assortment of things he discovered in his first year of life. So here’s his expert opinion on the best things for one year olds (and he is an expert, since he’s very good at being one):

  • Exit signs. If one’s in his sightline, he lets you know. It reminds me of Elf, when Buddy runs around looking at each tree, and every one is “Beautiful…wait, wait, look at that one! Beautiful!”
  • Sneezing. I don’t know what he likes more—watching people sneeze (he’s onto something here—very funny faces), or when he sneezes. He sneezes, smiles, sneezes again, and then gives the biggest, “did you hear that?” proud smile possible.
  • Balls. Of all toys, he’s partial to balls, which is a problem for me since I can’t say it without thinking anatomy, especially since most of the time it’s paired with “playing with your balls” or “where are your balls?” Anyway, his dad, as an athlete, is proud. He even taught him how to catch the other day. Imagine that! A one-year-old who catches!
  • Rough play. He likes being chased, being held upside down, being thrown in the air, being dragged by his feet across a bed, being thrown onto couch cushions, free falling, sky diving—basically anything where his limbs could break any moment. I see the ER in our future.
  • Doggies. Tormenting Ellie. He pulls her ears, tail, and even her oversized jowl. He just sticks his hand right on her lip and gives a good tug. He also loves chasing Buttercup, since she runs. The other day he made himself laugh repeatedly for several minutes straight by pushing his high chair toward her to make her jump. Every time was funnier than the last.
  • Remote controls. These are a “no” and they have a red light—a double whammy in his opinion. He spots it across the room and in the lowest voice he can muster, makes his, “look at that thing I’m not supposed to have” sound, a combination between a cough and a laugh that he makes when he points a something naughty.
  • Wiggling. He moves nonstop. Once he figured out how to drag himself across the room, within 2 weeks he was crawling and pulling himself to stand. When we’d hold him standing, he had to be bouncing. And when he started walking, he ran within days. Snuggling is very overrated for this wiggle monster.
  • Music. His taste started dancing to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys “In New York”—a cool boy’s subtle bounce right on beat. Now he would rather dance to his vacuum toy that sings, “Home, home on my floor” to the tune of “Home on the Range.” (Some of these kid songs are cute, and some are trying just a little too hard.) Anyway, he has a cute one armed chicken dance/spin that’s not quite as cool as his homeboy dance, but still on beat.
  • Bathtime. Wally Ben would tell you there’s nothing better than getting naked, getting squeaky clean, and then splashing water as high and loudly as possible. You’re not done until the walls, ceiling, and whatever dad’s wearing are all soaked.

This may not help you build your Christmas shopping list, but perhaps it will help you appreciate and look for the small things in life that have potential to make you happy.

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