10,000 Kisses

The introduction of this post must be prefaced with what seems like what has nothing to do with kisses, let alone 10,000 of them. Hang in there, it’s a short truancy from the subject, but quite necessary to the point.

As an athlete, you often hear it takes 10,000 repetitions of a new skill in order to truly know it as second nature. This is true for any skill, whether that be playing a musical instrument, flipping pancakes or learning to apply a triangle in jiu jitsu. To learn a triangle takes only a few minutes, you can be taught how to do it rather quickly. But to use it during a sparring session or during a competition, it requires approximately 10,000 repetitions to be adept at it. Yes, you can catch someone in a triangle after only 100 repetitions, but probably with someone who has fewer reps in the technique than you and it would not be second nature as it flowed from another technique that was not appropriate or did not work in that situation. It’s not surprising then, that this would make me think of perfecting the act of kissing. But with my son, I have learned that when it comes to kisses, 10,000 repetitions has a little more at stake in the long run.

This morning, while trying to come up with blog ideas for the week, my 2 year old son was trying to get me to work on puzzles with him. He had brought a couple into the living room and was dismantling them on the floor as I scribbled in my notebook. I was becoming more agitated that I wasn’t coming up with any quality blog topics that someone other than my mom and husband would care to read. Gray finally determined an intervention was necessary and was now hanging over the arm of the couch, where I was sitting, and insisting I play with him. I had snapped at him not fifteen minutes earlier and was trying desperately not to let my writers block take it out on him again. But just as I thought I might snap at him again, he began kissing my face, over and over again. Sweet little pecks on the cheek, the temple, the side of my head, until he grabbed my face in his two hands and turned it towards his so he could kiss my nose, my forehead, my lips. As I giggled through the kisses, it occurred to me that my little muse was the one I was blocking, not the other way around.

I pulled Gray over the arm of the couch into my lap and returned the little favors over every inch of his face and neck. Sometimes I hold Gray down and kiss him all over when he’s crabby. It pisses him off at first, but typically, he begins giggling eventually. He used the same technique against me and my grumpiness and I would like to think that all of the repetitions of affection since he was born prepared him to utilize love and affection to counteract agitation. There must be more than 10,000 kisses that have transpired between he and I and he and his dad.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Gray hits out of anger and frustration like any toddler, and he has certainly been swatted due to my anger, frustration or fear, but a ratio of hugs and kisses to swats are disproportionate in such a way as to ensure kindness, love and understanding. I have no doubt we have surpassed our 10,000 kisses quota, but like any mastered technique, it takes repeating those 10,000 repetitions to remain a master of the skill.

I only have a little time until Gray decides I can’t kiss him anymore and he won’t want to get my attention at all, let alone with kisses. I wonder how many kisses we can squeeze in between now and then? How much time do I have until all of our kisses have to sustain him until his own child requires he pass along the skill, as my parents did for me?

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

New Image

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.