Lessons learned from raising a toddler

Raising a toddler takes plenty of patience and time.  And of course, all of that is learned from a zillion mistakes.  Luckily, I’ve made many.  Being that my toddlers are now 10 and 13, and survived their childhood, I think I did alright.

Here are some of the things I learned while raising a toddler (read yesterday’s post for a little more on toddlers):

1.  Social events take planning. My future ex-husband and I learned that eating together during the toddler years was out of the question when going out.  If we had to bring the kid, one of us would shovel our food down while the other ran after our Houdini toddler.  And then we’d switch.  Some restaurants have crayons, and that’s great for a toddler if your toddler doesn’t try to eat them.  Ours would have to be carried to the bathroom with blue and green shards of wax and a drooly grin on his face.  It helped immensely to order some fresh fruit or crackers from the waiter before we sat down just to keep him occupied.

2.  Anything that requires standing in line requires a stroller.  If I ever stood in line at the bank, at the grocery store, for the bathroom, etc, and the only thing keeping my toddler with me is his hand held by mine, I might as well give the person in line behind me my spot in line.  As soon as I would get to the front of the line, it was inevitable that my son would take off running and I would have to run after him.  The fact that the stroller came with its very own version of a straitjacket made the stroller my very best friend.

3.  And that brings me to the next point: I learned that teaching my son to unbuckle himself was not a precious idea. As soon as he learned to unbuckle his stroller straps and his carseat straps, there was no keeping him locked in.  Of course, with unbuckling comes buckling.  The game of escape was momentarily hindered by the game of unbuckling and buckling repeatedly.

4.  Kitties really do use their whiskers for balance. A cat with only half of her whiskers is quite wobbly.  (On that note, scissors within view, even if out of reach, are still within the reach of a toddler)

5.  Haircuts can be done during potty training, during snack time, while reading them a book, while they watch TV, during any time that you can entertain your kid and keep them stationary.  But haircuts should never last more than 5 minutes, and sometimes even that is too long.

6.  A piece of yarn and a tray full of cheerios will provide at least one hour of entertainment.

7.  So will a highchair tray filled with water on a hot day outside in the shade.

8.  Sometimes we can learn tricks from our dogs. If my toddler ran away from me, I learned to run away from him in an exaggerated and excited way.  This only worked for a very short time until he caught on, but for a little while, just like a puppy, he would change course and follow me.

9.  The best answer to a string of “why’s” is “Why do you think?”

10.  Any questions I had about what he had just ingested would be answered in 2-4 hours.

11.  Just like a cat leaving a bird on the doorstep as a present to their owner, a toddler throws things at our heads because they love us.

12.  If the kitty was allowing my toddler to place little toys on her belly without moving or scratching him, just let him do it.

13.  Writing on the wall is MY fault because I was the one leaving the pens within my son’s reach.  But still, how was I supposed to know he could reach the top of the refrigerator?

14.  If there is gum in the house, it will end up in my toddler’s hair.

15.  Nothing is quite as shrill as a toddler’s high pitched scream.  This is inevitably discovered when they are right next to your ear.

Looking back, I can now laugh at all the things my toddler put me through. I’m also sad because as the years go by, and as he grows into a calmer version of himself, the memories of his terrible two’s are fading.  My best suggestion to the parents of toddlers?  Write it all down.  Some day when they are speaking in complete sentences and doing their homework on their own, you’ll miss that dimpled drool grin and mischievous glint in their eye.

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