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.

Mediocre Mommy?

I’m finding out I’m not as mediocre as I used to be. I mean, I used to be really good and mediocre. Take this certification I’m studying for. I used to be able to do the bare minimum, pass with a mediocre grade and be perfectly satisfied with that effort and outcome. I took a practice test with those principles of mediocrity firmly in hand and did not do as well as in previous efforts. Mediocrity used to be sustainable with a level of effort that was efficiently proportional to my natural ability. Something has occurred though that inhibits me from being both effortlessly mediocre and content with the spoils of mediocrity. Mediocrity comes more hesitantly in proportion to my effort these days and since I do not desire to be substandard, unless I make the conscious decision to be so, I have to adjust for this cognitive dissonance.

If mediocrity is not a God given, base line result of minimum effort, where is the redeeming sense of, I could do better if I put forth a marginal amount of effort?  If I have to work to be mediocre then mediocrity loses it’s sense of rebelliousness. Interestingly, excellence and effort have become more desirable as my natural mediocrity atrophies with age. It’s like the word that has scalded me for three and a half decades is suddenly soothing and cajoling, a Siren beckoning me to her rocky shore where jagged rocks and rip tides threaten my casual and effortless treading of water.  It’s the “P” word… potential. I’ve caught myself thinking recently during intense bouts of exercise or inadvertent effort, what if I took this potential for a spin? What would happen if I really tried?

I’ve bathed in the tepid water of mediocrity most of my life while people with life rafts swam to save me, only to curse me as I reveled in my ability to barely stay afloat with minimal effort. The sirens then, may not have been Potential lulling me from my comfortable malaise after all. My son, all I want for him and all I want to be for him, opened my eyes and revealed the razor sharp teeth, pallid skin and hollow eyes of the Sirens that sung me to sleep on an island called Mediocrity.