I came across a link on facebook about living through the toddler years. And whoo-boy, the toddler years, boy they suck, huh? Having done it twice in two years, I don’t really think I set myself apart from anyone else. People have done more, in less time, but your experience is your own, and everyone has their own threshold of what they can handle. Like I’ve said said, I couldn’t handle more than two kids. Funny, because when I was younger, I always thought I wanted a litter of kids. Of course, I was still a kid myself, and I thought I was fucking awesome. My mother has a different opinion, natch.
And in part, I’m still living through those years, with LG rapidly approaching three in a couple of months, I can slowly understand that feeling of the fog, and it lifting. Four years of toddler-hood is just way too long. Way.too.long.
A lot of people who are pregnant or have kids younger than mine, are always asking me for advice, and despite the fact that I still feel like I have no god damned idea what the hell I’m doing on a daily basis, people will still ask and hang on my every word, like I’m some kind of expert. I love helping people, and I love to talk, so this is a good combination. It’s like, I give someone disposable advice and I save money on therapy bills. It’s a win for everyone. ”Whatever you do, don’t do this, trust me, you’ll thank me later.” Or, “Yeah, that age just blows ass, HAVE FUN!” I have the propensity for never sugar coating anything, and maybe that’s why so many people come to me and ask me what’s up ahead. Maybe it’s my experience with having a child who was developmentally delayed. I can talk a blue streak about that, and I’ll never tire of helping someone in that situation. I believe advocacy is the best prevention.
But, toddlerhood. Yeah, I’m no different than anyone else, I suppose, except that I had one toddler who was atypically developing and one who was, so it left me with the experience of no comparison between the two (and a feeling of having the wool sort of pulled over my eyes). The Mini did do typical things, but he also did many things out of order. LG was and is pretty typical for a toddler. But, her toddlerhood seemed much, much longer. The Meester asked me a month ago: “doesn’t it seem like she’s been two forever?” Dude, YES!!! Resoundingly, fucking YES!!! But, as my mother pointed out, she’s been two, since she’s been one. It’s so true.
For as much as I remember toddlerhood, I often look to this blog to remember shit that happened, especially in the past four years. Things I know about toddlerhood:
- Compare kids. Even though they say not to, averages are based on comparison.
- Three sucks. Three sucks HARD. Far worse than two.
- Four is awesome, but that’s probably because they’re not really considered toddlers anymore. Enough said.
- What one goes through, the other won’t. Typical or not. Unless you only have one kid, you won’t make it through unscathed.
- Ignore that bullshit phrase, “appreciate it now, because you’ll miss it when its gone.” You miss everything when it’s gone. Especially donuts. But you can’t really fully appreciate a phase until it’s over. And you’ll always look back on the phase with some sort of fondness.
- It’s absolute hell, though. Even if you have a laid back kid, it’s still hell. Toddlers are aliens. They suck your brain power and your will to live, and if they had even a remote understanding of things, they would absolutely shove a probe up your ass. I’m (mostly) not even kidding about that.
- You can’t control them anymore than you can control the weather. Mother nature is volatile and so are toddlers. The only thing you can do, is the same thing you would do for mother nature: emergency preparedness. There’s no secret to this, since every make and model of toddler is different. It’s called, whatever works for you, and whatever gets you through the day. The thing is, as much as you want to bend their little minds to your will, they’re already their own person. The only thing you’re doing is guiding them through life, hopefully on the right path. You’re just helping them make the best choices.
- Potty training feels like it will be the death of you, but like anything else, it’s a learning experience and a notch in your belt.
Like anything else, it has a beginning and an end. Yes it’s difficult. But any other parent of older children tell me that other ages are difficult too. It’s just the lack of communication at this age is pretty shitty. They can’t communicate, so they find other ways. Going boneless, hitting, biting (thank god I’ve never had biters or hitters. In that regard, my kids have been pretty good), telling you no (I hear this never gets better), inappropriate attention seeking behavior.
My kids now play with each other. They are like built in best friends. They can rally a little more now that they’re a bit older. It used to be that I would stress immensely about them getting to bed on time, and staying up past their bedtime, dealing with the fall-out for the next couple of days. It will still get the best of us, sometimes. Usually by the end of the weekend. But the fact that you can now (finally!) have a conversation with them, and the fact that they’re interested in things and actually talking to you about it with big dramatic gestures is so totally awesome. I mean it. Maybe it’s a little extra sweet for me. The Mini’s conversational skills seemed like they took painfully long to develop. But, it felt like one day, a light bulb went off, and BOOM! It wasn’t like that of course. It’s the always present rose colored glasses. When I think back to last summer, I remember him working really hard on those conversation skills. Re-iterating, back-tracking; telling me so that I could finally understand. But that’s a post for another day. My pride can’t fit into a few short sentences.
What I know is this: If you can survive the toddler years, it will be hell. The hours are long. The hours are thankless. But the other side is there. File those fleeting awesome toddler days in your mental storage to help you get through the bad days. One day you’ll wake up and you’ll feel like things are all rainbows and unicorns. One day you’ll be able to do all of those cool things you always dreamed about when you became a parent.
P.S. Don’t be afraid to drink a beer or a glass of wine in the middle of the afternoon. It definitely takes the edge off.