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A Day in the Mind of a Toddler

At 19 months, my daughter Margaret is in the full bloom of toddlerhood. She moves nonstop. Her emotions can change faster than a streetlight. Her needs have a here-and-now urgency. She's only semi-verbal and semi-rational. She's also fun, funny, and  -- with her big dark eyes and unruly brown hair  -- utterly adorable.

Margaret is also a little sponge, absorbing everything she sees and hears. That fact struck home when I recorded everything she did for a day, and then asked experts on child development to analyze her actions. Their comments made it clear that plenty was going on "behind the scenes."

Contributing editor Paula Spencer is the mother of three and author of The Parenting Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth.