15 Things They Don’t Tell You About Having a Toddler

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When people say there is no instruction manual for kids, that’s not entirely true.
There are thousands of books about raising children, but let’s be honest, even if your infant came out clutching an owner’s manual, you wouldn’t read the thing anyway.  Within those books, were you to read them- which you won’t because you don’t have time, you would find some excellent advice on how to raise a perfectly lovely human being. But your toddler is not a perfectly lovely human being nor are they equipped to listen to reason.

Remember drunk Joe from college who always stripped naked, stumbled around, danced awkwardly and peed all over himself before giving a good natured slap to the face that turned into a more aggressive punch which devolved into biting and stumbling before the authorities could subdue him, just for him to pass out mid- sentence?  Yeah, he prepared you better for raising a toddler than any book. Good news is, Joe, with your constant supervision, outgrew that phase of his life and so will your toddler.  These, 15 things they don’t tell you about having a toddler, will at least marginally prepare you for what is to come or reassure you that you are not alone and your toddler is perfectly normal.

If you are raising a toddler at the current time and it’s amazing you’ve had time to make it this far into this article, jump to number 15 and peruse the rest later. Number 15 tells you everything you need to know.

1.  One day your toddler will slap you in the face from close range, in front of lots of people. You may or may not be able to reprimand your child, depending on your sense of humor. Being high-fived in the face by a 2 year old is just funny, whether it’s out of playfulness or a temper tantrum.  Either way, you’re forced to keep a poker face.  You don’t want to smile and reinforce the behavior, nor do you want to make the angry face you want to make which gets child protective services called on you.

2.  Cuss words for some reason are the only articulate words in a lexicon that is otherwise only partially decipherable. These cuss words will most likely be used for the first time or the most frequently in front of your grandmother or pastor, or both.  If your grandmother is a pastor, the cuss word will most certainly be dropped around her.

3.  Your toddler will go through a nudist/exhibitionist phase.  For some reason toddlers love to strip down and proudly show off their bodies while standing on tables, chairs, the family dog.  Do not let this alarm you.  This is perfectly normal and unlikely to become a permanent behavior.  The biggest concern is that they feel comfortable with their bodies. This is a phase best worked through at home, away from daycare and church nurseries.

4.  Your toddler will hit another child and though the little brat probably deserved it, you will half-heartedly chastise your child and wonder how you will teach your kid it’s ok to hit some people.

5. Potty breaks are at their discretion, not yours or traffic’s. In fact, your toddler becomes very aware of the power they wield as a recently potty trained toddler and will leverage that power for getting up from naps, getting out of time outs and generally manipulating you to avoid them peeing on themselves.  For more on this, see point #15.

6. Your toddler will somehow learn to dance like a stripper and you hope this doesn’t coincide with the nudist/exhibitionist phase, though of course it will.

7.  Toddlers do not have an innate sense of how to serve a time-out.  Time outs are reasonable uses of redirection for toddlers, but take some skill to master.  It requires putting the child in the time out over and over and over again, seemingly defeating the point.  These are the times you realize that you were spanked and turned into a decent human being.

8. When your toddler starts toddling, you will feel compelled to find out when everyone else’s kid started toddling,  so you can determine how much more awesome your kid is.  Your friend’s kid may be twenty and hasn’t toddled in 18 years, but you’re still keeping score.

9.  The first few times your toddler falls while mastering the art of toddling, your first impulse will be to laugh. Though the novelty of these falls will wear off, there will still be the occasional fantastic fall that includes pinging off of things and skidding that require you to stop laughing long enough to comfort your little one.

10.  When you tell your toddler to, “stop it”, and they reply with, “you stop it”, you understand what a simple but terrific comeback that is.  Really, what do you do with that?

11.  There is a thrilling sense of victory that you taught another human to poop in the potty.  You will tell your friends about it. Yes, your friends, and not even just the other parents.  You’ll tell your few remaining cool friends that still go out and wear trendy clothes that have never been thrown up on.  You will put it on Facebook and it will be on your timeline into perpetuity, or until all the cool kids decide Facebook is being ruined by parents talking about their kids’ potty habits.

12.  That victory seems hollow when you realize that wiping a toddler’s bottom while hanging off the edge of the potty is somehow more disgusting than changing poopy diapers.

13.  Your toddler will bite another child and you will be mortified. When this happens, do not worry that you are raising a little Hannibal Lector.  Understand that this is a phase that all toddlers go through and redirect your toddler accordingly. It helps to act really mortified in front of other parents though.  Believe me; they’re doing the same thing.

14.  Toddlers are like zombies, they move neither quickly nor efficiently and yet they are deceptively difficult to keep up with or get away from.

15.  Your toddler is smarter than you.

What Are You Afraid Of?

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I am launching a new site as a catch-all for the different things I’m doing. I have always been Stephanie The Avenger!, now I have a website to spearhead all of my other projects. My first post is talking about fear and anxiety, and how it can hold us back from doing some really cool and fun things.

I have a lot of fun, but often times I have to overcome my own fear and anxieties to participate. Please check it out and give the new blog a follow.  It’s going to be a lot of fun!

Here’s the link to the new post:http://wp.me/p6jESZ-f

Pitch Wars Mentee Bio

Hello!

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Welcome to my Pitch Wars bio page. For those of you here because you follow my blog and get email updates, Pitch Wars is a writing competition created by Brenda Drake where agented and/or published writers volunteer their time to mentor other writers trying to become agented/published.  I submitted my manuscript, Two Bit Mind, for consideration.  To follow along use #PitchWars on Twitter. My twitter handle is @thetomboymommy, but I warn you, my feed is all pitchwars all the time right now.  If you love GIFs, go-go now.

If you are a fellow mentee, or a mentor, welcome! It took getting my nerve up to actually hit submit, so there were a few false starts.

Dirty_Dancing_Dance_Scene_3, but then I got my nerve up and was all, Dirty_Dancing_Time_of_my_Life_Final_Dance_High_Quality

My nickname is Stephanie The Avenger!.  I became The Avenger! back in the early nineties, inspired by Towanda The Avenger! from Fried Green Tomatoes.  In fact, many people refer to me as Avenger, even the cops who would bust my parties my first stint in college. “Avenger, we told you no more parties.” That sort of thing. I have a corporation set up as Stephanie The Avenger! LLC, so you can make checks payable that way.  Avenger! pose          The love interest in my life story is my husband, 28 years my senior (like the MC in my book).

He’s pretty super too. Super Doug  We have two kids together- a one year old and a four year old.  They are superheros in training.

Now for some random facts:

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I’m a personal trainer.

I think it’s funny when people fall (even my kids).

Red is my favoirite color, but sometimes I forget and tell people green.

I had my first amateur MMA fight back in June.

I love Dirty Dancing, but it’s not my favorite movie.

My favorite movie is probably The Philadelphia Story.  “The time to make up your mind about people, is never.”

I’d leave my husband for Cary Grant if he was still alive and I stood a chance. Cary Grant

I played rugby for 11 years.

My favorite book is a toss-up between To Kill a Mockingbird and Jane Eyre.

I re-read the Harry Potter series every summer.

I love the At Home in Mitford series by Jan Karon.

I tell people I’m 5’4″, but I’m really more like 5’3″

My first car was a red slugbug named Wanda.  She was my partner in crime and I could write a whole book about our stories.  She burned down on the side of the highway while I stood watching the fifteen foot flames with a pinkie mouse in a 5gl aquarium.

I’m rooting for Miley Cyrus to get her shit together so her music doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure.

I used to be a zoo keeper. I have taken care of all kinds of animals, but my favorites are the primates.  I love the great apes and got to hand raise a baby chimpanzee named Zoe when her mother died during labor. I have taken many parenting cues from that experience. I could also write a book about all of those experiences, like the time a llama flung me on his back when I tried to step over his lowered head as he ate.  I hung on to his furry butt and wrapped my legs around his neck and hung on for dear life while he tried to get this pain in the ass keeper off his back. Lessons were learned that day.

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I love telling stories and believe that PitchWars has already improved my odds of being a professional storyteller. Thank you Brenda Drake and all of the mentors volunteering their time to support all writers.

If you would like to check out the other PitchWars mentee bios, go to this link at Pimpmybio to check them out! Thank you, Christopher Keelty for organizing a blog hop for the mentees!

Sleeping Children

I got up at 5AM the other morning, my 4 year old’s feet in my back. My one year old woke up and I put him in bed with me too and snuggled him back to sleep.

When I got up I looked down at the two of them lying there, side by side, one tow headed, the other with his auburn curls. I fell in love with them a little more, surprised yet again by the depths of my ability to love them.

It was still dark outside and I was getting up to get some writing done before they woke and our crazy day began. I had to remind myself to picture them lying here peacefully, remember how much I adore them when I felt compelled to yell at them in a couple hours for stealing each other’s toys or playing in the toilet.

First Female NFL Coach

Jen Welter is the first female NFL coach.  Over here at The Tomboy Mommy, that’s big stuff.

How many of us grew up playing football with the boys, only to be jettisoned from the number one pick in middle school?

Jen Welter has played professional women’s football and is now coaching professional male athletes.  What I love most about this is that she was hired because she was capable, not just because she was a female.

Bruce Arians, the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals recently stated when asked about women coaching in the NFL,

The minute they can prove they can make a player better, they’ll be hired,

I loved this response.  As tomboys, as a women, we don’t want special treatment, in fact, we often have to go above and beyond what the men do to get even a little respect.  When playing football with the guys, a minor mistake on our part is blown out of proportion as a failure, and reflective of our right to be there, whereas the men can make the same mistake and move on.

Here is Arians’ response to actually having hired a woman.

Coaching is nothing more than teaching. One thing I have learned from players is, ‘How are you going to make me better? If you can make me better, I don’t care if you’re the Green Hornet, man, I’ll listen.’ I really believe she’ll have a great opportunity with this internship through training camp to open some doors for her.

No, not just doors for her, but doors for other women who are qualified by knowledge and ability to make others better.

Jen Welter will face many challenges as a pioneer for women coaching in the NFL, much like her counterpart, coaching with the San Antonio Spurs, Becky Hammon. They will have to be above reproach as they “prove” they deserve to coach the men.  But I’m sure these women aren’t here to prove anything.  They merely want to do their jobs and do them well, because that’s what they do.

I’m just so damn excited about women coaching men on the highest level.  Athletes just want to perform to the best of their abilities.  On the oldest coaching staff in the NFL, Jen Welter is more capable then the male coaches at actually playing the game.  Indeed, she’s coming off 14 seasons as a professional linebacker.

Including women on professional sports coaching staffs should be less about diversity, and more about putting the best people on staff that will improve athlete performance.  If there are women like Jen Welter and Becky Hammon that fit that bill, then bring on the diversity!

Tomboys everywhere rejoice!

Here is a link to the Arizona Cardinals website with the story.

Bad Parenting

Bad Parenting

My parenting style has had time to evolve over the last four years to the point where I feel like I can now say I actually have a parenting style.  I’m realizing I’m kind of an aunt mommy.  I was an aunt for so long, that by the time I had my first kid at the age of 33, it was sort of ingrained in me.

I’m not sure how well this will translate into good parenting, or resulting in children that society cares to be in possession of, but as far as that goes,

I don’t really want my kids too concerned with what society does or doesn’t want out of them.

I expect certain tenets of faith, charity, gratitude and confidence from them, and accomplishing those, I think the rest will take care of itself.

Here are a few of my offenses as a bad parent.

I yell at my kids.

I hate myself for it, but I’m a yeller.

I cuss in front of my kids.

I explain that I’m an adult so I can use words I won’t let them use.  Look, the real world is full of double standards, they need to get used to it and be able to tell the difference between what they can do and what a grown up can do.

I use a wooden spoon to smack a leg.

You can thank me when my child is a decent human being rather than a brat that knows you’re not going to do anything to him other than time out.  Don’t get me wrong, we utelize time-outs, but sometimes a more expedient form of redirection is more appropriate.  Don’t bother commenting on how you feel about swats, I don’t care.

I let my kids stay up late.

Look, I don’t want to start my day at 6am, and I don’t have to.  The kids still get a full night’s sleep. I don’t see why our day has to start at the crack of dawn. It doesn’t.  I take them to daycare about 9:30 on the days they go.

I turned both my kids to forward facing at one.  

Again, don’t bother commenting; I don’t care if your child is rear facing until they’re ten, I trust your judgement as a parent.  I’ve seen comment wars about safety and mommy shaming.  One group goes as far as to say, “cast it rather than casket.”, in regards to their legs being all bunched up rear facing.  Is this the mentality that parenting has succumbed to?  Get over yourselves. Ugh.

I let my kids drink soda and eat sugar.

The thing is, my kids prefer water and that’s all they drink all day, and usually all they will ask for.  But if they get a coke with dinner when we’re out, I don’t think it’s going to stunt their growth.  The old adage, everything in moderation, including being overkill health food nazis, applies.

I let my kids talk back a little.  

This one is hard for me as I was raised by a drill sergeant.  Literally.  My father was a drill sergeant.  But, I struggle with them completely acquiescing to authority figures.  Authority figures can be wrong, deceitful, dishonest and not have your best interest at heart.  I want them to have the ability to discern between reasonable and unreasonable requests from authority figures.

I don’t coddle my kids when they fall (or fail).

We’ll be at the playground and they will take a pretty good tumble or have a pretty good wreck.  I don’t jump up and run to their aid.  I give them a second to catch their breath and assess themselves, self-sooth.  The exception is if they’re doing that holding their breath before crying thing, I’m there in a split second.  Most of the time they come to me crying a little still.  I ask them if they are ok, offer a hug and send them back out to attempt the same thing that just upset them.

I don’t teach my kids to let others win.

My older son was watching a cartoon and the moral was that the really good person should let the lesser skilled kids win.  I made him change the channel and won’t let him watch that carton anymore.  Are you freaking kidding me?  In real life, some people are better at things than others.  Whether that’s in the workplace, sports, driving, whatever.  I do believe in them assessing a situation and responding according to their values of being decent human beings.  Crushing people younger or disabled is not acceptable, but to go easy on someone your age who is perfectly capable of competing, just not as well as you, in order to keep the status quo and let everyone be winners?  Um, no.  There will be things that my boys lose at.  They can either work hard and get better, or accept that maybe they aren’t very good at that skill, and even if they work harder, may still not be as good at as the other kid.

Find something you are good at and crush it, while enjoying whatever other thing they are not so awesome at.

I believe in punching bulies in the mouth, not tattling.  

We were watching another cartoon that said if you’re being bullied it’s ok to be a tattle tell.  There was a whole song about it.  My older son asked me about it, because it did not jive with what I hold told him to do.  I said, no, if a bully hits you or messes with you, stand up to him.  Bullies pick easy targets.  The ones that stand up to them are not worth the effort.  If you tattle, it will only make it worse.  A teacher or a parent cannot always be there for them.  Adult bullies are the same.  If you punch them in the mouth either physically or metaphorically, depending on what fits the offense, they will back off.  Even if you get your butt kicked standing up for yourself, you are no longer an easy target.  I promise this is true.  I have been both the bully and the bullied.

Look, I’m not writing some parenting manifesto that all parents should adhere to.

This is how I parent.

I have this crazy notion that there is more than one way to raise a child, not some homogenized standard to which we all must adhere.  Let’s ease up on each other and support parenting of all styles.

Time will tell how my kids end up, and I will NOT take full responsibility.

I’ll take a lot, but at some point, my kids are going to be responsible for their own choices, that’s why I give them opportunities to fail and succeed based off of what they choose to do.  Want to jump off the top of the playground toy?  Go for it, let me know how it turns out.  If I run over and stop them, I’ll have to always be there to stop them.  Obviously anything more than a few feet off the ground would warant an intervention.  But if the result is going to be a hard landing, I won’t have to worry about convincing him not to jump off the 20ft high toy.  They will have a frame of reference to the lower jump. I think kids are smart enough to extrapolate this out to other experiences in their lives.

My job is not to always be there for them.

I’ll only be there for them a short percentage of their lifetime.  My job is to prepare them to be out there without me, and hopefully come back every now and again for a hug and a kiss.

Marrying an Older Man

I married an older man.  Not a couple of years older, like, older older.

Married to an older man.

Married to an older man.

If you are randomly here because you googled, “marrying an older man”, you might have specific concerns.  I’ll try to address a few of them.  If you are reading this because you are a friend or family who clicked on the link on my Facebook page, proceed with caution.  I’ll probably talk about sex with my husband.  No gory details, but perhaps more info than you require in your support of my writing.

My husband is 28 years my senior. We’ve been married 9 years.  I was 28 when we got married, he was 55.  I feel like this is a math word problem.  If the older man is 28 years older than his younger wife and they are aging at a steady rate, how old will his wife be when he is 65?  The answer: 37.

My husband is an old man, older than both of my parents.  Guess how many kids we have together?  Two.  We have two kids together.  That’s a grand total of six for him.  He has four adult children my age, give or take a year.

So, at the ripe old age of 61, my husband started all over again.  Can you imagine starting over again raising your kids?

Older man starting over.

Older man starting over.

He’s an amazing father though, having raised four kids to adulthood.  He can see the mistakes he made in the past, reflect on the things he did well, and incorporate those into his parenting style now.  Where I am inpatient and blow the kids off occasionally, my husband makes the time, knowing that the time goes by quickly.  He tells me often, “Steph, you’ll blink and they will be thirty-five with kids of their own.”  I don’t think this is condescending, it gives me some insight into appreciating the little parts of parenthood that are so easy for someone my age to take for granted.

Our modern family.

Our modern family.

Someone my age.  I’ll be 38 in a little over a week.  That’s the perk of marrying someone so much older, I always feel young and I am happy to reciprocate.  Age is relative. I’m almost 40, when most people my age have teenagers, and I still feel like a young parent.   Part of that is because in my mind I’m still in my twenties, and often times my teens.

I wouldn’t hold his hand when we first started dating.

When we first started dating I was still pretending like we weren’t and we were just hanging out a lot and he was paying for everything.

But when I did aknowledge we were dating I wouldn’t hold his hand.  It felt weird because I imagined people looking at us and trying to figure why I was holding hands with my father.  Also, I shaved my head down back then, so it looked like he was holding hands with a teenage boy.  Yet another perk of marrying an older man, he’s confident enough in himself to not need to insist I change.

Are you wondering about having sex with your older love interest?  Well, I can’t speak for all older men, but mine is very considerate and patient, thoughtful and passionate.  He’s not in a big damn hurry, and genuinly cares about my experience. Having been with younger men, I can say the experience is much more satisfying with my old guy. Is that put comfortably enough? Oh, and no, he has not required assistance from little pills, blue or otherwise, thank you very much.

We do get odd looks from time to time, and even judged.  The judging comes mainly from older women who feel like an older man is being ridiculous and insecure by marrying a woman young enough to be his daughter.  Or, maybe you’re just a bitchy and jaded older woman that he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his days acquiescing to.  I responded to a woman’s post on Modernmom.com about this very thing.  Here is a link to her Open Letter to Men who “trade in” for Younger Wives. I wrote this response, An Open Letter to Older Women Who Resent Younger Wives.

Don’t get me wrong, I can be a total bitch.  I exasperate him at times.

I never worry about him cheating on me with someone younger, I mean, you’d have to congratulate the guy at this point.

No, I worry more about an older woman, someone his age.  I mean, I can’t compete with that.  I can’t fabricate 28 years of maturity and experience, someone who can relate to him on that level.

I have all the faith and every confidence in my husband’s fidelity, but I sometimes wonder if he’s getting cheated his relaxed golden years.  He insists to me all the the time that I’m getting cheated with an old guy. I know plenty of young women getting cheated by their young guys.

Want to know what we talk about?  Do you wonder what we could possibly have in common? Well, now we’ve got two kids in common- a one year old and a four year old.  But before kids, we talked about our hopes and dreams, his accomplishments and failures, my ambitions reigniting his, and his experiences bolstering mine.  We grew up in the same town 30 years apart.  I love hearing his stories of what Norman looked like and what he did in the places that still exist and maybe didn’t back in his day.  What’s even funnier is that my mom’s husband went to high school with my husband.

My husband's high school pic.

My husband’s high school pic.

I encourage younger women who are struggling to find a man with whom they can share their lives to think about dating an older man.  Those young guys in their twenties will quickly lose their hair, physiques and looks, so if that’s what’s stopping you, imagine what’s left when that goes to seed.

My husband is tall and handsome, bald on top and has a goofy walk that endeared me to him from the first time I met him.

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I was dating strapping young men back then, but when we sat in the dark after going for a drive and all I could hear was his voice and feel his strong, mature hand laced in mine. The fact that he didn’t have the physique of a twenty something year old mattered very little.

That’s what I fell in love with first. I fell in love with him in the dark and suddenly, holding his hand in public didn’t bother me anymore.

Now that we have kids he is often told how cute his grand kids are.  Often times he’ll let it go, though with a sadness that maybe only I can see.  I know what he’s thinking.  He wants the credit of being their father.  Sometimes he’ll say, “Actually, these are my kids.”  He gets stunned looks as they try to make up for it, which is another reason he rarely corrects people, he doesn’t want to make them feel badly.  I see the sadness come over him again when our four year old talks about him being his kids’ grandpa.  The man isn’t ancient for crying out loud, but he’ll be in his eighties when the boys start having kids.

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I don’t think I could have had a successful marriage with someone my age.  Hell, I was 28 when we got married and hadn’t found a guy that could handle my tomboyishness and exuberant lifestyle.

It’s not all perfect, we do fight a lot, but again, that’s my husband for you.  He hates to fight and I love a good argument.  Most of the time he fights with me so I don’t feel like he’s a push over.  That’s the way he’s willing to fight for me.  I try to let things go because I know he hates conflict, but it’s something I’m still working on.

So, if you are here because you’re curious about dating or marrying an older man, my experience has been the best thing I’ve ever done.  Our life has not been easy.  I definitely did not marry for money.  But I value wisdom and experience, perhaps I’m a gold digger in that regard.

Sleep When Your Baby Sleeps…Not! How To Win at Nap Time.

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I think perhaps my biggest conundrum as a stay at home or work from home parent is what to do when the kids nap.  Now, both my boys, one and four, go to daycare (or school as we call it) 3 times a week, so I do have some respite.  But when they are home I have to consider what to accomplish during that 1-2 hrs when they are asleep.

People who say to sleep when your baby sleeps either haven’t raised a baby in ten years, or they are only repeating what they’ve heard a thousand times.  This advice is the crappiest advice you can give someone with young children.  Here’s what I think about when my kids sleep.

Should I spend this time cleaning the kitchen since the baby won’t be around to pull everything out of the dishwasher as soon as I put it in there?

I could vacuum while the baby isn’t around to try to sit on top of the thing, rather than being afraid of it like a normal child.  No, too loud.

Toddler On Board

I could get some writing done without cartoons blaring in the background and the baby pounding on the keyboard so I have to backspace more than I actually type.

I could workout, bahahahahaha

Ok, I could fold some laundry while the baby isn’t here to unfold it as quickly as I fold it, and my preschooler isn’t here insisting I laugh as hard the hundredth time he puts his underwear on his head.

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I could just sit here and stare at the wall and do absolutely nothing other than beat myself up for doing absolutely nothing.

Ooh, I could take a bath and maybe even have time to shave my legs!  What’s the point?

By the time I consider all of my options, the kids are halfway through their naps, or at least the baby is.  The four year old doesn’t nap anymore, but he’s at least semi self-sufficient, so I can get some stuff done.

The problem is, any one of the tasks I choose to do leave me feeling guilty for not accomplishing the other ones.  I know I laughed at it above, but I usually end up working out.  Hey, it gives me some tension relief to fold clothes while they are unfolded, load the dishwasher as it’s being unloaded, vacuum with toddling jockey on board, and though the stink has compounded due to the workout and no time to bathe, the day somehow feels more manageable.