Toddler Rules

Well, I’m about to turn t-w-o mom, and though you have done a stellar job of keeping me alive since my last letter, I feel I must write you again to provide some updates about what you can be expecting me to expect you to remember.  You’re welcome.

1. I really very strongly dislike anything that I do not want right now.  That is subject to immediate change.  I don’t know why you are frowning at me.

2.  Whatever I do want, I require immediately.  I will repeat the same word or gesture over and over again until you provide me with whatever that happens to be, because you appear to forget that I’ve asked for something awfully quickly.

3. Why are you coming near me with those scissors?  I like my hair where it is.  NOOOOO!  AHHHHHH!  GET AWAY FROM ME!!!  DID YOU EVEN READ THAT FIRST BULLET?!

4. You weren’t trying to get somewhere in a hurry were you?  There are lots of very interesting things on these stairs that require immediate inspection.

4a. And don’t you dare try to carry me down the stairs, woman.  This is important.  I will wail like I have never wailed before.

5.  If you forget my bankie anywhere (aka the lovey)…well, just make sure you don’t ever forget one anywhere.

6. Bankie combinations in order of how happy they make me: Single bankie = good.  Double-bankie = really good.  Triple-bankie = awesome.   Mega-bankie (all four!) = AHHHH I’M SO EXCITED I MUST THROW MYSELF ON THE FLOOR.  If you really want me to be good, I suggest my bankie quota fall somewhere between the triple and mega.

7. I really like the record player.  I also really like Baba O’Reilly by “Whooooo.”  You may not play any other song, ever.  I’m serious.

8. I like when you pick food up, you make funny noises.  I will keep throwing food for you, because you still seem bored.

9. Raw beans are for eating.  Not for playing with.  Stop trying to tell me otherwise.

9a. Same goes for crayons.

10.  Brushing my teeth is slow-grown torture.  I am done trying to tell you this.  Just stop.

11. If you try to rush me anywhere and pick me up, I will practice civil disobedience and become a wet noodle.  Good luck picking me up now.

12.  Did you say you wanted me to get my shoes?  Look at this cone, I can wear it as a hat!

13.  Toilet paper is better unrolled on the floor.  You keep forgetting, so I will continue to fix it for you.

I think that is about it for now, mom.  I think there may be an addendum to this list in your future, but for now this will suffice.  I will continue to be infuriatingly cute whenever I cause a ruckus because I know how much you love it.  Here’s to my birth day, the most challenging (but obviously the best) day of your life.  But seriously, make sure you read my points.





A little dose of perspective

Ever sat through a conversation, situation, or whathaveyou, and suddenly realize “I have a lot to learn”?  That happened to me at work yesterday.

For over an hour, I sat in awe of a mother who despite her teenage daughter’s wildest efforts to alienate herself via screaming, swearing, and generally attempting to self-destruct while simultaneously blaming mom for making her do it, managed to remain calm, affectionate, and soothing toward her child the entire meeting.  It was incredible.

Frankly, it made me feel like the parenting job I’ve got is a walk in the park.  It also made me feel very bad for any time I’ve gotten frustrated with a kid I’ve worked with.  Because honestly, this woman could teach seminars on how to maintain a generally loving disposition towards someone who is out of control.

I think I’m able to keep myself collected and calm much of the time I am parenting or working.  But I don’t really know if I am that loving the whole time.

When the session was over, I pulled mom aside and told her that I thought she was doing an amazing job.  She got teary-eyed and it was very difficult not to hug her, but I hope the sentiments were well received all the same.  Sometimes it can be hard to know how often a parent is actually being told they’re doing a good job; and this woman is working really hard.

It’s crazy to me how being a part of someone’s life in that kind of way can really put the way I work or parent in perspective.  I have nothing to complain about with my son or really any good excuse to lose my patience with him; and this woman is still lightyears ahead of me in the way she handles a really difficult emotional and possibly physical situation.

These kinds of things tend to happen when I begin to think I am figuring things out, finding my footing,or generally start thinking I might actually know what I am talking about.  Then I realize that is not the case and I have to eat some humble-pie.


Something happened this morning that, for the first time, made me really feel I’ve “arrived” as a parent.  I know this is a silly thing to say, but it was a big deal for me: that moment when you see that your patience and constant direction and redirection is starting to take form organically in your child’s behavior.

I am probably oversimplifying this phenomenon with my example.  He is not even two yet, so there will probably be many more significant events in his life that will cause me to feel this way, but something about even this most basic situation this morning, to me, felt big.

So I mentioned K is almost two, right?  Along with that comes some fairly rowdy behavior that occasionally requires some corralling.  This morning, he had found a giant mason jar still half-full of water sitting on the coffee table.  He does  what any toddler would do: picks up the jar, starts trying to drink the water, then immediately realizes it would be exponentially more fun to fling the water all over the living room.  Hearing his maniacal shrieks of laughter, I enter the room just in time for the finale, in which he flings the jar up over his head.

Now, I am well aware that it is just water, so no real damage is done.  But I still have to do something about the action, even if inside I think it is hysterical and I’m trying not to laugh (it is no longer funny when, for example, there is coffee in that cup).  I quietly ask him if it is okay to fling water; he looks at me, pauses for a moment, and shakes his head no.  So I ask him to put the glass back on the table, and tell him that he needs to go to his room.

I haven’t done this before, so I am not sure what will happen.  He looks at me, and without protest, picks up the cup and places it on the table, then walks to his room and proceeds to play quietly in there by himself for 15 minutes before asking to come back out.

Wow, I thought.  That was really awesome!

The funny thing about that situation is as soon as he was in his room playing by himself, I started wondering if that really had just happened.  At this point, I have now spent years being someone’s parent, but have not been able to “watch” my parenting work in that kind of way.  It was something.  It also helps that my child has a wonderful temperament (most of the time!).

Am I oversimplifying?  Possibly.  But it was still very humbling to have an arrival moment as a parent: that moment when you realize that what you are doing is actually doing something.