There’s been some backsliding since we installed the gates that block off all exits from our living room and toddler-proofed the house. Our youngest just turned 3. We have two kids. They’re wonderful, if loud, and somewhat intolerable, but no more so than any of their peers. But by now, having had a toddler-run home for the better part of four years, there is some fraying around the edges that is starting to make it feel like the whole thing is real close to falling off the edge. I’m not saying we’re frazzled. We were frazzled with babies. Now, we’re just fucked—with all of it.
They are still well fed and, at least, sufficiently cared for, which is far more than we can say for ourselves. That said, there are some signs that we are kinda, sorta, totally over this whole toddler thing. You may be over it as well. Be honest and see how much of this list you can relate to.
1. Your kid’s best hiding spot is directly behind your phone, which you’re holding and staring at. Seriously, they could be screaming and starting a campfire. You wouldn’t notice.
2. Underwear streaking is no longer a problem. It’s now classified as a “cost of doing business” thing.
3. You are now essentially a toddler. You have fully ceded your self-control to your captors. The second you get home, you are in pajamas. Cereal or leftover half-eaten chicken nuggets count as a meal. Go-Gurts are good. A decent percentage of your vegetable consumption comes from a pouch. It’s Stockholm syndrome; you’re one of them now.
4. Even casual contact with the wipes now counts as hand washing.
5. Screen time is the best time. Hear that? Silence.
6. Potty training will happen when it’s time. The youngest just turned 3. The way I look at it he’s halfway to potty training himself.
7. You no longer care that they behave better for literally every other adult. I’m glad he ate asparagus with you. Just don’t rub it in.
8. You can’t be bothered to clean up without the threat of public shame. This is the only reason. Even then, it’s more the illusion of clean you attain. That said, every time, you think, I should just convince myself so-and-so is coming to dinner every Sunday to keep the place in shape. No luck. The threat needs to be real and arriving in 45 minutes.
9. I don’t care what they watch. They can watch Eyes Wide Shut as long as they’re quiet.
10. Anyone who tells you that a toddler needs more than one bath a week can go to hell.
11. They get one pair of pants a day. Yep, even if a drop of water should fall upon them. Wear them or go without. It’s frankly a good policy for the adults as well.
12. I’ve told him to put his pee pee away 8,000 times today. No more.
13. You wonder aloud if there’d be any functional way to get a restraining order for the duration of an entire trip to the bathroom.
14. Fine, touch it. See what happens.
15. Throwback Thursday gives you hope. All these parents you so envy, running marathons and climbing mountains, smiling with unadulterated joy, were just like you in their TBT pics of when their kids were babies and toddlers: doughy, puffy-eyed, horribly groomed and tragically uncool. Look how fabulous they are now that their kids have been wiping their own asses for years. There’s hope.
16. We like to see all the ways we can trick them into swearing for our amusement. There’s really no plausible way to prompt him to try to say “mother trucker,” so we just tell him to say it. Then we laugh. Oh, do we laugh.
17. We are not above buying compliance with money or screens. Seriously. Take advantage of it while you can. Rates are gonna skyrocket for this in the years ahead.
There are great things about the toddler years. Truly. Babies just lie there. Now they walk. From time to time, I can have my beer brought to me. Ahhh, parenthood is truly magical.
Alright, gotta run. Time to “cook” up some cheese sticks and apple sauce.