As parents, there is nothing more rewarding for us than watching our children grow and evolve over time – from helpless babies, to determined toddlers, to unique children, to independent young people and beyond. We are filled with an indescribable sense of love and pride as we watch our kids gain new words, skills and levels of understanding every day.
But it’s a gradual process, particularly for toddlers. They learn by watching others. They learn by doing. They learn by screwing up repeatedly. But the important thing is, they are learning.
So, don’t worry – they’ll get it eventually.
Who’s your grandma? Let’s say you’ve just turned 40 and you’ve been taking it rather hard. You decide to splurge on a trip to the spa. You treat yourself to the works – a fresh new hairdo, a facial, a mud bath, a manicure, a sexy new outfit. You couldn’t be more pleased with the results as you examine the “new you” in the mirror. Damn you look good! Screw 40! You could pass for 37 easily! You decide to go to the grocery store in the hopes that someone you know will see you. You sashay up and down the aisles, grabbing random things that you really don’t need, feeling on top of the world when suddenly you hear, “Grandma!” Horrified, you wheel around to see some grubby little bastard pointing a fat finger at you. “Grandma! Grandma!” You went from feeling like a million bucks to feeling like a dried-up old hag in a matter of seconds, and all at the hands of a sticky little two year old brat. If you’ve ever been in this situation before, please don’t take it personally. Toddlers seem to have absolutely no concept of a) age, and; b) family relations. They think everyone over the age of 35 is grandma or grandpa. So relax – it’s not you. They just don’t get it.
They’ll only do it once! Please understand that anyone who has ever said this about a toddler is lying. As human beings, it is in our nature to learn from our mistakes, but nobody ever said we learn the first time. Toddlers don’t seem to understand that if it hurt once, it’ll probably hurt again. How many of us have seen this happen? Your little adventurer climbs on top of the rocking horse, stands up, wobbles, falls down, smashes his forehead, gets squished by horse, cries, gets a kiss from mommy, gets over it, then promptly starts scaling the damned horse again. I’m no expert, but I don’t think toddlers have the capacity to learn from their mistakes – yet. Common sense would tell us that if we’ve been smashing our foreheads with a 98% success rate every time we climb up on the freaking rocking horse, then maybe we should not climb up on the freaking rocking horse. Toddlers just don’t get it.
There’s no accounting for bad taste. Your toddler has preferences. He’s probably had them for some time, but has only recently been able to express them using words. Some toddlers have certain foods they won’t eat, while others are extremely picky. It may be a source of anxiety for some parents, but having preferences is also an important part of a child’s development. But what is it exactly that fuels a child’s tendencies? How does he decide what he likes and dislikes? What causes a toddler to scream like a dying banshee when he sees broccoli on his plate, yet joyfully eat dog food by the hand full? My two year old doesn’t like corn, pickles or peanut butter. He loves corn, pickles and peanut butter if they’ve been on the floor. He doesn’t like granola bars, but he loves margarine straight out of the dish. He doesn’t want what’s on his plate, even though it’s been lovingly cut up and prepared with ketchup. He wants what’s on your plate, even though it’s the exact same thing. What can I say? He just doesn’t get it.
Stealth? Tact? What’s that? It’s no secret that toddlers have an uncanny ability to get into trouble with a level of speed and regularity that is unmatched by any other age group in the human race. Just go ahead and try to get into trouble every three seconds for an entire day. An hour even. Trust me – you can’t do it. You don’t have the energy. Toddlers, however, have two things going for them: boundless amounts of energy and an inexplicable desire for that which they can’t have. It doesn’t matter what it is, or why it has been denied to them. If they can’t have it, they will not rest until they’ve destroyed it, choked on it, or covered it in greasy finger prints. However, there is another force at work there that is utterly incompatible with your child’s trouble-making talents. A toddler cannot lie. They don’t know how yet. In fact, they’re a prideful bunch, and they can’t help but show off their dirty work. Let’s say your wife has entrusted you with a tantalizing little box that she has forbidden you to open. You spend a few minutes pondering your current situation, when suddenly your bad, devil-conscience guy drop kicks your good, angel-winged guy in the face. You silently sneak off to open the forbidden package, only to be supremely disappointed by the contents (Books? Really?! That’s the big friggen secret? Could you be any more lame?). Now. Do you a) carefully place the books back in the box, replacing the tape and eradicating any evidence that you were ever in the box, or; b) run excitedly to your wife, waving your arms and drooling, showing her that, not only had you been in the box, but you’ve eaten half of it’s contents. An adult, who knows how to lie, will probably choose the first (smarter) option. A toddler will choose the second one every time. They could secretly get into trouble, but they’d rather face the consequences if it means they get to show off their work.
I don’t know. They just don’t get it.