In the beginning, there were no toddlers. There were only babies. As babies, we had chubby little thighs and sleepy little minds. As babies, we could not speak or walk or point at doggies. The Gods sustained us day and night.

Now we are toddlers, but still: we worship the Old Gods.

We do not drink milk from sippy cups or straw cups or open cups. We do not drink milk cold. The Ritual of the Milk is a sacred dance: the Gods pour the milk into a microwavable vessel, then heat it, then pour it into a bottle, then cap it, then swirl it to dispel potential pockets of extreme heat that could burn us, then uncap it again. When the Gods offer us milk that has not been prepared according to the ritual, it is a test of our faith. We refuse it.

We show our humility by offering the Gods pieces of food from our grimy fingers, covered in our unworthy saliva. We do not try new foods until we have offered them to the Gods, and the Gods have eaten them, and not just pretended to eat them. If the Gods enjoy the food, we feed them more of it. If the Gods do not enjoy the food, it is probably poison.

We remove our socks and shoes and hats and mittens and jackets. The Gods did not fashion us in the likeness of a child well prepared for being in “public” or “the cold.” They fashioned us naked, and to this state we strive endlessly to return.

Each day we are served three meals, and from these we fashion a Fourth Meal, which we cast to the ground as a sacrifice. Each night, the Gods collect the sacrifice and judge our devotion. We never allow selfish hungers or the deliciousness of noodles to prevent us from keeping with our faith.

We apply ourselves to the acquisition and study of sacred knowledge. The Gods have many tablets, and we desire them all. To unlock a God’s phone is to unleash our greatest potential for learning and the irrevocable changing of hidden settings. To wield a God’s remote is to feast upon wisdom, at wildly fluctuating volumes.

We rise early. Each new day is a precious opportunity to bask in the Gods’ love and affection and pious exasperation, and we refuse to waste a single minute of it, even when it is pitch dark and no one has slept well. We sing our waking songs on endless repeat, and the Gods come.

We fight against the demons who impersonate the Gods and attempt to take us off the swings while we are still having fun swinging. No matter how clever the disguise, we are not fooled. We know the Gods would never, ever betray us in such a fashion. Not ever.

After all, we are toddlers.

And the Old Gods love us.