Ten Tricky Things about Toddlers
I have a toddler in my house.
I suppose he’s not technically a toddler if he isn’t exactly toddling yet. But the toddling isn’t the point. For all intents and purposes, Eric has reached that 12-18 month age range that turns my brain to mush, turns my house into a disaster zone, and turns our lives upside down.
THIS is what characterizes toddlerhood. (Hyperbole? Nah, I don’t think so. I think it’s a pretty accurate description.)
And THIS is what makes this stage in childhood the most difficult for me as a parent.
Now, before I get to my list of ten things that I think are tricky about toddlers (and by “tricky,” I mean “terrible,” let’s just be honest) I want everyone to know that I can engage in a bit of light-hearted toddler bashing and still love my toddler with every fiber of my being. I can complain about how exhausting it is to parent a toddler and still contain boundless gratitude for his health and development. I can recognize how frustrating life is for kids this age and still bemoan how frustrating it is to care for kids this age.
I can find a snail-trail of my kid’s snot splayed across my sweater and still cover his booger-splotched face with giant kisses and “I love you’s,” you know?
Now that we’ve made that clear.
Here are my top ten
terrible tricky things about toddlers
1 They are fluent speakers of Screamish. They might understand the language (or languages) spoken in their homes far better than they did mere months ago, but most toddlers don’t use more than a dozen words if that. And this is frustrating for them. So sometimes they scream. And even if they can use sign language to communicate their wants and needs to their caregivers? Sometimes there’s just one sign that they want to give you, and it only takes one little (middle) finger to do it. But you probably haven’t taught them that sign. So sometimes they scream.
2 They appreciate the grosser things in life. Cheerios taste better when you eat them off the floor. The cat’s butt is the most cuddly part of its body. Toilets are like a seat plus a swimming pool, which equals awesome. Boogers are better left where they belong: strung from the tip of an itty bitty nose. These are the toddler life rules.
3 They need to practice their skills, dammit, there’s no time for sleeping. The house is quiet. The night is still. The air is peaceful. The sky is dark. The clock reads 2:42 a.m. There is a toddler in your house, and they are awake, and they want to practice walking, dammit, so there is no time for sleeping.
4 They aren’t as smart as they should be. They can crawl. They can move. They can toddle. They can roll. They can climb. They can cruise. They can weasel their way into very small spaces. They can pick tiny things up with their two tiny fingers. They can stick a fork in a light socket. They can look at a marble and think that it looks delicious. Their brains aren’t up to par with everything that their bodies can do.
5 And yet, they are smarter than you think. Have you ever seen a toddler crawl or walk away toward something that they probably know they shouldn’t be doing, and then turn back to look at you with a shit-eating grin that seems to say, “I’m totally gonna do this thing that you don’t want me to do, DO YOU SEE ME DOING IT?! Come catch me, you big oaf.” Yep. That’s pretty much an accurate reading of what they’re doing.
6 They are your new interior decorator…of doom. Your couch would look better with a splash of color–maybe the red of that strawberry that your toddler was saving in their pocket. And you can’t appreciate the design of that chair unless it is turned upside down. Your walls could use some handprints on them. That duvet cover hasn’t seen its full potential until a tiny teething human has chewed on it. Cabinets are for emptying. Floors are for piling up mountains of laundry. And toys. And whatever else you used to keep neatly stacked or stored.
7 They aren’t interested in that bullshit toy you just gave them. You think that the noise-making, colorful, whosie-whatzit you just gave your toddler is going to keep their attention while you try fold some laundry or GOD FORBID make a phone call or eat a meal. Think again, my friend. That toddler doesn’t want the toy you gave them. They want the “toy” that you just put up out of their reach. Your phone? The cat food? The power cord for your laptop? THAT’S WHAT THEY WANT. And don’t even try to set them up with some “safe” household objects, like the spatula and bowls and pots and pans in the kitchen. If it’s not accompanied by a stern “no” and a swift move to an out-of-reach location, it’s a bullshit toy.
8 They practice acrobatic terrorism. Think of a mechanical bull. Now, imagine that the mechanical bull is covered in beer. And mud. Lots of beer and mud. Your job is to wipe all the beer and mud off the mechanical bull while it is turned on. And without letting any of the beer or mud spill on the floor. That? Is what it’s like to change a toddler’s diaper.
9 They are human tornadoes. Afternoons in our house often look like this: I carry a laundry basket upstairs. Eric pulls all the diapers out of his diaper basket while I dump out the freshly washed clothes. I fold the clothes. Eric crawls away from the pile of diapers. I walk over and put the diapers back in their basket and move them out of reach. Meanwhile, Eric pulls all the newly folded clothes out of the basket. I return to fold the clothes again. Eric pulls all the dirty clothes out of the hamper. I put away some clothes and then realize he is trying to eat a pair of dirty underwear. I pile the dirty clothes back in the hamper. Eric crawls over and pulls the yet-again-folded-clothes out of the basket. I give up and wonder how bad it would be to just shove all of our clean clothes into little balls in our drawers.
10 They are the master of the house. Don’t fight it. Get used to it.