I will admit that nothing scared me more than the day I left the hospital with my newborn baby. I couldn’t believe these people were willing to let me walk out of there with this helpless little being. Even though I studied the What to Expect, When You’re Expecting, book religiously, I was certain I would somehow screw this parenting thing up. It was overwhelming and purely exhausting but each day it did get a little less scary and a bit more familiar.
Little did I know then that while being the parent of a newborn was scary, taking on a toddler was a level of scary that would put the “Tower of Terror” at Disney World to shame. It seems there was quite a bit about toddlerhood that all the books seemed to leave out…
1. Remember all that time you spent longing for the day when your precious little one would take his or her first steps? Well, you better have your running shoes ready because you will need to be right behind him every unsteady step of the way. You will suddenly find yourself adding many new skills to your mommy resume as you learn to track and chase a tornado like Helen Hunt did in the movie “Twister.”
2. Overnight, toddlers seem to acquire mad monkey skills and you will be shocked at the circus feats they are capable of. Not many things surprised me more than the day I came out of my bedroom and found my little one happily sitting up on top of my refrigerator in his red pajamas.
3. Have you heard the expression, “His bark is worse than his bite?” Well, if you’ve ever been bitten by a toddler, you can attest to the fact that their bite is a hell of a lot worse than their bark. Who knew that I should have put shin guards on my baby shower registry? Anytime I wasn’t giving my son 100% of my attention, he would sneak up on me and a few seconds later, I would feel the piercing sting of my flesh as he bit into it. Nothing grabs mom’s attention quite as fast as a nice sharp bite in the leg.
4. Sponge Bob’s got nothing on toddlers. They can absorb words, language and expression like never before. They are walking, talking little sponges and you can bet your bottom dollar that the words you never meant for them to hear are the very same words that they will master and use at the most inopportune times. Bad words are hilarious, fun and best delivered in public when the opportunity to embarrass mom will never cease to amuse them.
5. The word “no” becomes a staple in the toddler years; for every “yes” you hear, there will be a thousand “no’s”. Their need to be independent is fierce and it’s their way or the highway.
6. Potty training is in full swing! Again, those running shoes of yours will come in handy since you will find yourself forever sprinting in search of the nearest bathroom. You will be mourning the days where all you had to do was throw a diaper on the kid and go. You should probably buy Lysol in bulk because you will find human waste in places you never thought possible. I once smelled urine for days in my son’s room without being able to target the source. Finally, I lifted a blanket off of his toy drum set, and low and behold, that little drum was filled to the brim with pee. Lovely!
7. Whatever you do, don’t be fooled into thinking that once your child is successfully potty trained, you will no longer need a baby bag with backup outfits. You always need backup outfits. If it’s not an “Oops, Mama, I didn’t make it to the potty on time,” it’s an, “Uh Oh, Mama, I pulled the lid off my Sippy cup and now I’m covered from head to toe in wet, sticky juice!” And just when you think you’ve packed enough backup clothes for every possible scenario, he will surely throw up on you after he has already thrown up on himself.
8. My Mother always told me not to cry over spilled milk, and for the most part I don’t. I do, however cry over spilled coffee. Coffee is the life blood for most Mommies’ and almost as soon as my son started walking, he seemed to have a built in GPS which would navigate him straight to my coffee. I will never forget the day I called my husband and bawled my eyes out over spilled coffee. Fortunately, it didn’t take me long to realize that my coffee should always be kept at least three times as high as the top of my toddler’s head (and even then I wasn’t totally confident that he wouldn’t somehow manage to spill it).
9. As the toddler years begin to wind down, you will begin to gain a false sense of security. You may even feel as though you’re starting to stand on steady ground. Keep in mind, while the ground may be steady, the rug can still be ripped out from underneath you at any given moment. Forget, What to Expect, When You’re Expecting, and instead, expect the unexpected.
10. While it’s true that we’ve been on this earth a heck of a lot longer than they have, and we should possess the skills to be one step ahead of them at all times, it’s not always the case. These little people have super skills and they are not afraid to use them. They’re fast, smart and incredibly resourceful. They’ve also got plenty of time to refine these skills during “Time Out,” which is a place they often frequent.
So, best of luck with your precious toddler… you’ll no doubt need it.