Thursday, April 12

A Handy Dandy Guide to Toddler Town (Or How to Lose Your Ever Loving Mind in 5 Minutes or Less)

Know what's super duper mega fun?

Toddlerhood.

If you've ever had a toddler, you know what I'm talking about.

If you haven't, you should get one. It's like having 10,000 barrels of monkeys all at once.

Actually before you get a toddler you should get 10,000 barrels of monkeys to practice with.

Oh, you non-toddler-having people think that's funny, eh?

Toddlers can't be that bad, you say.

They are SO cute, you say.

Yes, they ARE cute.

Ridiculously cute.

But don't be fooled.

It's just a cover up.

Because, like monkeys, they are insane, unpredictable, unintelligible creatures of mass destruction who sometimes throw their own poop.

Luckily, thankfully, mercifully, neither of my boys got into the whole poop flinging thing but I've heard stories.

Not rosey, folks. Not at all.

But even if you survive Toddler Town sans poop painting, it's still a tiny slice of hell on earth.

As Graysen and I are making our stop in Toddler Town, I am reminiscing about Kadyn's and my stop a few years back.

Our stop was so tumultuous that I have been DREADING my trip with Graysen.

Yes, DREADING.

Kadyn was a rough toddler, man.

And so, since I survived a trip to Toddlerhood and I apparently have given some great advice to other Mamas about to stop in Toddler Town, I thought I would put together this Handy Dandy Guide to Toddler Town (Alternatively titled: How to Lose Your Ever Loving Mind in 5 Minutes or Less.)

I'm not sure if this guide will help anyone but it sure is fun to freak out first time Mamas who have no freaking clue what they're in for!

Enjoy!

Constant Discombobulation 
Toddlers don't yet have their words. They communicate in a language widely known as Toddlerese or Toddlerspeak, also known as gibberish. They will babble, grunt and point and you won't have the slightest idea what they want.

Ever.

At first you will happily try to guess what your cute little early talker is trying to say.

"What are you trying to say, sweet little darling angel baby? Does baby want a snack? Or does she want some juice, you cute little thing you!"

No matter what you offer your toddler, you will be wrong.

And your sweet little darling angel baby will scream the loudest scream she could possibly scream while looking at you with giant eyes that say, "HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW WHAT I WANT, MAMA?!? DON'T YOU LOVE ME!?!?!?!"

You will start to panic.

"Oh, honey bear. Mama doesn't know what you want, sweetling. How about some crackers?"

Toddler is annoyed with you. You know this because she takes the bowl of crackers you just offered and chucks them across the room.

"No, no. We don't throw our food, angel baby darling" you will say.

Toddler will scream like a banshee because it has been three minutes and you still haven't given her what she wants.

You will get frantic and start offering anything and everything while begging and pleading.

"I don't know what you want! I don't understand! Do you want Mama to play with you? Sing you a song?" (If you sing, Toddler will shriek. Just skip the song altogether.) "Coffee? Do you want Mama's coffee? Steak? How about a steak and baked potato? A Camaro? Did you say Camaro? Bolero? You want a tie? Sombrero? DO YOU WANT TO GO TO MEXICO?!!?!"

Wrong.

Wrong, wrong, WRONG!

This scenario will end with both of you on the floor, crying.

Or

Your toddler will hear something human ears can't possibly hear. She will then wander off in search of whatever superhuman sound she heard. She will be distracted by something shiny or cute or fluffy or anything really and she will completely forget whatever it was she wanted from you.

You? Will still be on the floor crying.

Feeding Frenzies and Freezes
Meal times with your Toddler will bring you so much joy.

You will never know what your Toddler will do with his food once you serve it to him. The anticipation and excitement just might kill you.

Worrying if your little dude will eat your carefully crafted gourmet dinner won't even cross your mind. Instead you will ponder the aerodynamics of a carrot and whether or not mashed potatoes will stick to your ceiling.

You will watch your Toddler hurl his food in every direction and then scream that he has nothing to eat.

In addition to food fights for one, your toddler's appetite will change on a whim.

You will plant a grape vine in your yard because the ONLY thing your Toddler will eat is grapes and you've already been to the store 14 times this week to buy bags upon bags of grapes. Once you find yourself with more grapes than a Sonoma vineyard, your Toddler will REFUSE to even look in the general direction of a grape.

(Tip: Pick up a wine making kit while you're at the store buying all those grapes.)

Lastly the VOLUME of food your Toddler packs away will both amaze and aggravate you.

For days, he will pick at his meals, barely eating more than a few bites. The majority of his food will end up on the floor, the wall, the ceiling or the garbage. Or in the crevices of his highchair and body. ("How in the fuck did this get here?" You will say.)

And then, without any sort of warning, you will spend days doing nothing but feeding your toddler. You will make him oatmeal with fruit and string cheese for breakfast and he will eat every last crumb. As you take him out of his highchair, he will reach for a snack. You will give him a banana. And then he will want a cereal bar. And more string cheese. And crackers. And then you will make him lunch - a sandwich, yogurt, a pear. Seemingly satisfied, he will have a nap. He will wake up so starving and angry that you will think you forgot to feed him all week. He will eat 7 snacks between nap and dinner. You will give him a HUGE plate of food not expecting him to eat much of it because HE'S ALREADY EATEN HIS BODY WEIGHT. He cleans his plate. And then has another snack before bed time.

You will go to bed resolving to be better prepared to feed your toddler the next day.

You will wake up early to prepare pancakes, sausages, bacon, eggs, hash browns, fruit salad, oatmeal, yogurt and freshly squeezed orange juice.

Your toddler will pick at the hash browns and throw the rest of his breakfast on the floor.

You will start spiking your coffee.

Daredevilish Defiance
Make no mistake, your Toddler can understand you.

When you tell her NOT to scale the wall unit, to STOP throwing blocks across the room or to ABSOLUTELY NOT stick her finger in the dog's butt, she understands.

Oh, yes, she does.

She will pause, look at you with her adorably gigantic eyes and smile the sweetest smile you've ever seen.

At first that face will mesmerize you. You will find yourself in a trance-like state, forgetting all about whatever insanity your Toddler was just doing.

Eventually you will become aware of her evil wiles. You will develop an immunity to her hypnosis of cuteness.

But it won't make a damn bit of difference.

In fact, she will start deliberately defying you.

She will STARE YOU DOWN as she yards another block into the hallway. She will stick her finger in the dogs butt and then march directly up to you to show you her disgusting finger. She will scale the tallest of furniture while your back is turned and then delightfully giggle until you turn around, see her and promptly lose your shit in less than a quarter of a second.

And she will smile sweetly through every second of it.

Because there isn't a thing you can do about it.

Right next to Daredevelish Defiance, you'll find....

Contortionistic Violence (and violence in general)
I think the main reason Toddlers are so stinking cute is because they are so, so evil.

They bite. They hit. They kick. They pinch. They throw. They pull, push and prod.

And they are really, really bendy.

Once you can change a Toddler's diaper, you can wrestle a croc with the ease and skill of the late, great Steve Irwin.

But be prepared to get at least one blackened eye or bloodied lip in the process.

From the Toddler, not the croc.

In addition to wriggling out of diaper changes with Houdini-esque ease, your Toddler will be able to both get himself stuck in the strangest of places, in the oddest of ways and get himself out of every and any restraint or hold faster than goose shit slides through a tin horn.

Don't even bother baby-proofing.

Just buy a straight-jacket and a nail gun.

(I'm not even joking. Kadyn broke all but one child-proofing device we bought. Including 3 stove locks.)

And then there's the violence.

I think the violence is what shocked me the most about Toddlerhood.

Kadyn went through a particularly rough period when he was around 18 months. He would hit and slap me constantly. He would walk up to me smiling and then sink his teeth deeply into my thigh or arm. He ripped handfuls of hair out of my head and squealed with glee as he clenched the strands in his tiny fists.

I know part of it was frustration with our inability to communicate with each other. But the rest?

I don't have a fucking clue.

Graysen, thankfully, luckily, mercifully, hasn't been near as violent as Kadyn was but he definitely had a more than irritating period of lobster-like pinching and vampire-like biting.

Most of Graysen's hitting is directed at his brother.

I try to stop it.

Sometimes.

Hey, payback's a bitch, kiddo.

Spontaneous Combustion
Spontaneous combustion is pretty much a constant theme during Toddlerhood.

It is unpredictable and unstoppable.

Sometimes they are hungry, tired or need to be changed - the holy trinity of all things baby.

Sometimes they are angry and frustrated because you don't understand them or you aren't giving them what the want.

But most often they just combust. Spontaneously.

And no one, not even them, I am convinced, has the slightest clue why.

There isn't a single thing you can do but ride the wave.

Or you can cry, too.

That worked on Kadyn a time or two.

Spontaneous combustion can occur on it's own or in combination with any of the aforementioned Toddlerisms. Thusly it is the most dangerous of all Toddlerisms.

And finally...

Overwhelming Cuteness and General Awesomeness
Toddlers have to have some redeeming qualities, right?

If they didn't, people would be selling 'em to the gypsies left and right.

So what do Toddlers have?

Overwhelming cuteness and general awesomeness.

In abundance.

Have you even sat quietly and watched a Toddler? They are FASCINATING!

As a whole, Toddlerhood is all about discovery and investigation and I don't think life gets much better than watching a little person discover and investigate the entire world.

Watching their chubby little faces as they succeed at building a block tower or throwing a ball.

Seeing their reaction as they push a button on a musical toy or push a car across the room.

Or watching them try to figure out exactly what is going on in the mirror.

I am convinced 'child-like wonder' refers to Toddlers.

Toddlers are crazy. They are unpredictable and frustrating and nonsensical at times.

They are impossible.

And they are amazing.

And when Graysen runs at me at full speed, wraps his arms around my neck and squeezes with all his might, he could paint my whole entire house poop brown and I wouldn't give two shits.

Besides Toddler Town ain't got nothing on Preschoolville.

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