The toddler years are ones of amazement and wonder — amazement that such tiny people can wreak so much havoc, and wonder that you have made it through another day without tearing your hair out by the roots.
As difficult as this time is, there is some comfort in the fact that every mom of a toddler has similar experiences and thoughts. Here are 10 of them.
1. When they try to run away from me, where do they think they’re going?
Toddlers have a tendency to try to flee from the person who clothes, feeds and houses them. It’s confusing. I used to ask my children what they thought they were going to do once they got away from me. They couldn’t drive, they were way too young to get a job and they still didn’t know how to use a knife and fork. None of that matters to toddlers, however. Their only wish is for freedom.
2. Why did I teach them the word no?
No is a toddler’s super favorite word. They say it just to say it. They say it when they really mean yes. They say it when they sing to themselves in the bathtub. You hear it a lot as their mother. Here’s a missed opportunity from when my kids were toddlers: if you have to teach them the word no (and that’s kind of unavoidable, unfortunately), at least make it fun for yourself by teaching them to say no in a different language. It’d be a lot more fun to see your 2-year-old scream “niet,” “nein,” or “hapana” (that’s Swahili!). Do it. And then let me offer your child some broccoli.
3. Why is it so difficult to convince a human being not to shit their pants?
Potty training is a head trip. Going into it, you know what the general idea is, but it’s a whole different sack of beans when you’re sitting on the ground in front of a toilet, begging the child sitting there to urinate. Yes, pooping in a diaper is what he’s used to, but you’d think any rational person would jump at the chance to use a toilet instead once given the opportunity. Unfortunately, toddlers are not rational, and that’s why God created M&Ms.
4. Did my child just bite another child?
Yes, she did. Your sweet baby just sunk her teeth into someone else’s sweet baby, and thus begins the period of your life when you are held responsible for someone else’s stupid choices. Because toddlers need to see what happens when they bite the neighbor’s dog. Jackasses.
5. Did you know that you have to learn how to lie?
You do once you see a toddler try to lie. There will come a time when your child will draw on the wall with a marker in front of you — and I mean, literally directly in front of you — and you will ask him why he did that, and he will look you straight in the face and say, “Not me.” Sometimes it’s fun to see where he’ll take it by saying something like, “Really?! Huh. I could have sworn it was you. Well, then who do you think did it?” Hopefully, he’ll blame the cat. Or he’ll say you did it, which would make all that wall-scrubbing worth it.
6. Why don’t I get to scream anymore?
When you see your child with her eyes closed, screaming at the top of her lungs, it’s normal to feel some envy. It sure does look relaxing, doesn’t it? There are approximately 10 to 20 times during your day where you could use a good scream, too. Unfortunately, adults don’t get to scream. That’s why we have wine.
7. What is it about the blue cup?
Toddlers are very specific in their wants and needs. You can offer them every cup in the book — in fact, you can offer them 12 different copies of the exact same cup — but if that cup isn’t blue, orange or whatever the color of the day is, then they will not be drinking from it. And what’s more, you are heartless for suggesting it. The only thing you can do is wipe off the blue cup or go to the store and buy a new one, because telling your kids, “I don’t see color,” isn’t going to get you out of this.
8. Why does my child think I am going to abandon him when I walk to the other side of a room?
You feel like you’ve been a moderate-to-very-good parent so far. Certainly you have never abandoned your children and left them to fend for themselves in this cold, cruel world. So why is it that all of a sudden, whenever you leave the room your child believes you have left him forever? There’s an undeserved lack of trust there that is, quite frankly, baffling. But it is what it is, and now you just have to get used to playing My Little Pony while sitting on the toilet.
9. How did I ever think that waking up at 8 a.m. was early?
The Army has a saying that goes: “In the Army, we get more done before 9 a.m. than most people do all day.” Well, welcome to boot camp! When your toddler was an infant you got used to never sleeping, but you made it through by thinking that one day, hopefully soon, you would sleep again. Then your child became a toddler, and you realized you were wrong. Toddlers like to rise with the sun to begin their busy days, which means that you come to feel like your day is half-done by the time 10 a.m. rolls around.
10. Can a person survive on nothing but pasta and “the kind of bread we have at home”?
I guess we’ll find out. Now, you’re going to hear about other parents who take their kids out for sushi and marvel at how much little Mabel enjoys kale. But this won’t be your child. Your child eats three things, and all of them are yellow. Will she make it to adulthood? Shockingly, yes. And one day you will be in a restaurant (probably Red Robin) and your child will ask you what a “salad” is, and you will be embarrassed.
Toddlers. Gotta love ’em.