How To Survive The Toddler Years

Spawn got quiet. He was “brussin my’s teesh, Momma !”

From babies, to toddlers, to preschoolers, to elementary school, the tweens, the teens, and eventually adult children, all stages of development for our offspring have their own unique rewards and challenges. Having finally passed what we call “the toddler years” for our fifth and final child, I now feel compelled to share our biggest and most helpful secrets for survival.

How To Survive The Toddler Years

1. Learn to appreciate noise and to fear silence. It’s a cliche for a reason– because it’s totally true. No matter how many curtain climbers you have littered around your homespot, if your little slice of utopia is generally louder than a stock car rally, and then all of a sudden it gets quiet? Take a deep breath and brace yourself before you go looking. Trust me.
(Also– take a camera with you. You’ll want photographic evidence of this.)

2. Your toilet is as good as a garbage can-slash-toybox. Lock it up. No, seriously. Potty training be damned. You need either a lock on the bathroom door, a lock on the toilet lid, or an emergency contact for a plumber that you don’t mind financing Hawaiian vacations for. If it CAN be stuffed in the toilet, it will be. #FACT

3. Learn the proper rules of sharing. Sharing in toddler terms means that if I want it, it’s mine. Any time, any where, any thing. Give it to me right now or suffer my wrath. And don’t think you’re going to sweet talk your way out of it with some silly trade, either. Toddlers may be small, but they’re sharp. And worse–they’re ruthless.

4. Develop an appreciation for the word “no.” It’s such a beautiful, simple word. Embrace it. You’ll be mumbling it in your sleep soon. And getting it thrown back in your face a lot more often than you’d like.

5. Harden your heart toward puppydog eyes, crocodile tears, and quivering lips. IT’S A TRAP! These tiny little terrorists have been genetically enhanced with super adorable fundamental traits that are so powerful, they can cut you off at the knees with just a look.

6. Embrace the power of a well-timed bribe. Find out your toddler’s currency, and then keep tons of it handy. (Handy, but hidden! Bribes only work when used sparingly.)

7. Stay informed but be flexible. What your toddler likes today might be what he hates tomorrow. Children can be fickle little creatures. All last week, she would eat only white grapes and goldfish. Today, she turns up her nose and shrieks at the mention, and only wants bananas and spaghetti o’s. Just roll with it. You really needed to make another trip to the supermarket anyway.

8. If you have nice things, or sharp things, or breakable things, or really anything that’s not kid-friendly, kiss them goodbye. I always recommend getting a storage unit that you can pay the rent on for at least a decade. If you love it, you need to protect it. That includes protecting your great-grandmother’s vase from your toddler’s demolition training, and protecting your toddler from the all-consuming curiosity of Sharpie markers.

9. Do not buy Legos. There is no rationale for this invention that is worth the pain. Just don’t.

10. Accept and embrace your role as the center of their universe. (For now.) Arrogant, irrational, and self-centered though toddlers may be, they pattern their behaviors on how you react to their shenanigans. That impressively long string of swear words that you ripped out after stepping in a pile of OMG what IS that?! may have been a one-off, but don’t be surprised if you get a call from the preschool about *ahem* language problems. Toddlers can be quite spectacular little mimics, and their timing is usually impeccable. And by ‘impeccable’ I mean repeating the worst things at the absolute worst possible moment. 


Mom, Will You Marry Me?

“Mama, will you mawwy me?” Is there anything that squeezes your heart more? My squiggly little man is growing up faster than I can draw breath, but he’s still got that sweet little toddler lisp that makes his “r’s” a little blurry, and he still has that deep abiding love for his mama that I pray he never loses. Earlier in the year, he picked up this idea that we were going to get married, and since then, he’s just taken it and RUN with it.

“Let’s go get you a dwess, Mama, and we’ll go to the church.”
It’s not Sunday, baby, you can go to church with Nonna on Sunday.
“No, we got to go to the church so we can get mawwied.”
“Let’s go do that tomahwoe!”

He’s not a discriminate lover of the idea of marriage, either, and it doesn’t appear that he’s geared up quite yet to be a one-woman kinda man. So far, he’s said that he intends to marry not only me, but also his sister, his Nonna, and my best friend (whom he calls Aunt Shona).

While I think it’s hilarious and sweet, I know that one day, there will need to be a short little discussion as to why none of that is actually possible, but for now, who am I to crush his dreams of happily ever after? The only thing that would make him happier, right this second, than getting to be in a wedding with the most important and favorite women in his life, is maybe to get to meet SpongeBob in person or to sit down and play Minecraft in the same room as Tobuscus.

One day last week, though, we hit a little snag. His dad, my husband, asked, “Who’s your best friend?” expecting, I’m sure, the sweet little “YOU ARE, Deddy!” that should have come tumbling out of his grape popsicle-stained lips. Instead, what he got was “MAMA IS. Her’s my best fwend, and we’re gonna get mawwied.” Never one to be outdone, his dad feigned a pout, and said, “What? You mean you don’t want to marry me too??” I’m a little embarrassed to tell you the rest of this conversation now that I’ve started it. But what my son replied to that was “No, Deddy, we can’t get mawwied. You a boy.”

That gave me pause. My Kindergartener thinks straight marriages are the only ones there are? MY son? What the what?! [Insert needless ranting here about how I’m a huge ally and advocate, and so are our teens.] My friends told me later that since it’s all he sees, of course that’s all he knows, and that as he gets older and sees a little more diversity among our friends, and with his friends’ parents, that he’ll understand it a little better. For now, all I said was “Boys can marry boys if they want to, honey. Sure they can,” as my husband groused from across the room under his breath, “Not here, they can’t.” But a political discussion about state’s rights versus common human decency and how far behind our state is in the human rights struggle for equality is not really a discussion I want to have with my five-year-old right now, so I left it at that. “Boys can marry boys if they want to.”

“Now,” says his dad, “so are me and you getting married tomorrow?”

“No,” my son shoots back, “you got pokeys on your chin. You should go shave and then mawwy Mama again tonight.”

Where’s YOUR Willie?

Spawn is busy lately learning his body parts, top down, by pointing at each one on me and then himself. And by pointing, I of course mean poking, prodding, and pinching.
My eyezsh
My nozsh

My mouf
My goozle

My teefs
Behyee butten
My pangers (fingers)
My piggies (toes)
Hey … Where my goobah go ??
*Sigh* … Yes, I am aware that I should probably be teaching him the correct terminology (penis, instead of goober). But I’m not. So there. 

He has plenty of time to increase his vocabulary, but for now, ‘goober’ is the word we use.


… What his fascination is with his wee little willie is just beyond me.
He’s a nudist by nature, and the dangly bits I suppose just cry out for attention. 
And let me tell ya, he heeds the call. A lot.
I have older boys, so I know this particular tendency will only grow (*cough*cough*) as time goes by.
I just don’t recall any of them starting quite this soon.
And my boobs! What the effity-eff is so damn fascinating about my boobs??? 
He was breastfed for about two and a half seconds, so this has to be some sort of genetic predisposition that has been passed down to him through his dad’s (or my) DNA.
At this rate, I’d say he’s well on his way to growing up to be just like every other guy on the planet.