I once heard that toddler behavior is a preview of teen behavior. I thought that was a bunch of psycho-babble crap! And then I learned to eat my psycho-babble-crap words.
Two-year-olds are the sweetest little people….as long as you do what they want. Try not to let them hear the “NO” word for as long as possible. It’s like handing them a power stick. Every request will be answered with those damn two letters. At first you think it’s wonderful they have their own little brains figuring things out and then you realize they are ruling your house. They just love to watch parents get red-faced and ticked off. Notice how they dance when you turn red, if you doubt my words.
This is the exact behavior that resurfaces at approximately the age thirteen. It will continue for a few years until you are totally worn down. When you ask:
“Are you finished your chores?” …..”NO!”
Did you do your homework?” …..”NO!”
Isn’t it past your bedtime?” …..“NO!”
You’ll have to devise ways to trick them. For instance, “I guess you don’t want a ride to the mall.” They’ll look at you like a deer in headlights. “No! Yes, I do. No! Wait…What???” It’s all in the wording. Just enjoy being creative and watch them squirm. It’s actually a brain game, although I refer to it as screwing with their minds some days.
Remember when little Sally wanted to dress herself and you were so excited? Her little outfits didn’t match and she changed six times a day. Well here it comes again!
This is the lesson in dress code: When your daughter tries to leave for a school dance dressed like a pole dancer, you need to shriek, cry and fake a full-blown tantrum. This will throw her hormones into a panic. She is not expecting this erratic behavior from you. She’ll change in two minutes flat.
Dry your tears and have a glass of wine and wait for her mom-approved dress to reappear. (Special note: Do not watch her as she pulls her preferred skimpy outfit from her backpack as she hops into her friend’s car. This will just deflate your spirits.)
Toddlers love honesty. Seriously, who taught them that? You can be at the grocery check out and they will pipe up, “Mommy, I saw you lying on Daddy last night.” The young kid bagging your macaroni and cheese will start to chuckle. “Why were you tickling him like that? Why, Mommy? Why?”
You will never hear those exact words escape from their mouths as teens. If you remind them of that “funny time in line at the grocery store,” they will begin to gag. You must use this power to your advantage. If you even kiss your man in front of them, they will run from the room; sometimes they actually run from the house. This is a valuable reminder. Anytime they are on your last nerve, just grab your man and do a few lip locks. Instant peace and quiet guaranteed!
Toddlers have boundless energy. It must have something to do with being so close to Mother Earth. How is it possible to be awake all night, dance, skip, hop and run around like they’re jacked up on life? Those little toes must be sucking up high-powered minerals from the earth! Once they get tall, the Mother Earth connection goes into hibernation.
During the teen years, you won’t see them because they’ll sleep all day. I think they’re making up for the lost sleep from those toddler years. If only we could do the same. Those beautiful little curls you loved to brush will turn into a mass of knotted, bed-head. It’s best to let them sleep rather than spend hours trying to wake them.
Toddlers are full of chatter. They will chirp and chirp and chirp some more. Every parent wonders what their child voice will sound like. Then there are days parents wish they could just turn off that damn talk switch. “Why?” they will ask. “Because my ears need a rest,” parents will say. “But Why? Are your ears sleepy?” and on and on it goes.
When they turn fifteen, their new vocabulary consists of a few single words: “Hungry, Ugh, Grunt…Grunt Grunt Grunt.” After eight hours at school when you ask, “What happened at school today?” The response will be a series of grunts. It’s like they used up all their words as children and they’ve worn out their vocal chords. What they are saying is, “Nothing happened that you need to know about. I have my own life and I hate these questions.”
My advice is to chat with their friends nonchalantly. They are chatterboxes, but not at their own house. “Did you hear what happened in Algebra?” they’ll ask you. Do not pull up a chair and give them your undivided attention. You’ll look way too interested. Just grunt out a, “No. What?” The friend will give you the entire scoop on your kid solving this huge, bad ass problem. Don’t be an amateur and jump for joy. Just sit there and say, “Cool.”
Whatever you do, do not blink! Those days of a chirping, dancing, twirling, climbing, laughing, toddler will be gone before you know it. One day they’re going off to kindergarten and the next day they’re graduating from elementary school.
The teenage years will fly by as well. They eventually come out of their room and look like grownups. How did this happen? They’ll drive you crazy and when they leave for college, you’ll weep like a baby. Now you’ll be the one saying, “No!….No! It’s too soon! You can’t be leaving.”
Get a good night sleep and eat your protein. It’s going to be a long ride and you’ll need your energy. You might also need a wine collection. You won’t want to miss a minute of these crazy moments that make us a family.
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