A-Z of raising a toddler*

 *or how to wrangle a small, drunk dictator…

  • A – Awesome. Truly. Babies are super cute and they sleep a lot which is great but toddlers are incredible. They are eating, running, drawing, talking, pissing, climbing, screaming, laughing MACHINES designed to learn and DO. And that is pretty awesome. If you can keep up.
  • B – Bedtime. Could be unproblematic and chilled as your little angel settles to sleep with little more than a cuddle and a night night story. Or your little Chucky could get a second wind anytime around 7.30pm and scream blue murder when you very selfishly suggest that 9pm is indeed bedtime rather than chocolate hippo time.
  • C – Crayons on the wall, tv, floors, cat, toys. Basically anywhere but a colouring book. Also Co-sleeping. A contentious issue that most people partake of and then lie about!
  • D – Danger. Wherever it lurks, there too lurks the toddler. Bloodied, scratched and bruised. Luckily mummy kisses are magic. Everywhere except the arse, which when injured is only healed by daddy. Because rank.
  • E – Energy. I recently read that there should be an energy drink called 5am toddler. That should say it all.
  • F – Fun. You’re meant to provide stimulation (and try and use up some of that excess energy) so you sometimes are too busy making life fun for the toddler that you don’t realise they are fun to be around themselves. They’re very funny and there’s something about everything being so new and interesting to them that is very uplifting to a parent.
  • G – Give it!! To a toddler everything is fair game at play time, from the train set at nursery to the trampoline another child is currently playing on. As such, if they are denied their toy when they want it, for whatever reason, it is the worst thing that’s ever happened. My boy literally cannot handle someone else playing with whatever he has decided he NEEDS to play with right now and frequently snatches, pushes or sulks. It’s embarrassing but it is a part of learning to share and interact.
  • H – Hurry up and wait. Because every time you need to leave the house on time to be anywhere important your toddler will lose their clothes, their shoes or their shit.
  • I – Injuries, from the smallest graze to broken bones, are a part of life with a toddler. They move so fast and have no concept of danger. Unfortunately cuts and scrapes are inevitable. But the first time you see their blood is shattering.
  • J – Jumping; from sofas, climbing frames or just on the spot. It’s a dance move, a means of escape and transport all in one. Also links to the previous definition.
  • K – Kicking – see also Biting, Pushing and Pinching – for undesirable behavioural phases that all toddlers seem to go through. Hellish but fleeting.
  • L – Love. You love them and they’re your world but sometimes you just want to scream and disown them and down a litre of gin. Love conquers all but it doesn’t necessarily make it easy.
  • M – Mine!! See Give it!! Trying to teach the concepts of ownership and sharing is a horrendous task. Also Medicine. There is always Calpol. Remember this.
  • N – Naps – they dwindle down until they only need one precious hour or so a day and then they stop that too. And then the crying starts.
  • O – Outbursts happen. There will be shouting, big, hot tears and slammed doors or stamped feet. It is inevitable. And sometimes the kids have to act up too.
  • P – Preschool or nursery or whatever you call it, often there comes a point where it’s a good thing for your toddler to socialise and prepare for school so daycare becomes necessary. Walking away that first time is HEARTBREAKING but it is healthy and they’re honestly happy and you claw back a few hours of your own life.
  • Q – Quiet can be blissful but (normally when accompanied by the child being out of view) can also mean trouble.
  • R – Repetition repetition repetition. ‘That’s not my…’ books, the alphabet, Insy Winsy Spider, 1, 2, 4, 9… My whole life is spent listening to him repeat phrases and tiny bits of songs or numbers like Rain man. And if I’m not listening to him then I’m repeating myself 4 or 5 times a minute because if something’s worth saying it’s worth saying again and again and again.
  • S – Sharing – essential but very difficult to teach and really hard if you’re not, as I’ve discovered myself, a great sharer yourself.
  • T – Tantrums. Out of nowhere your gorgeous cuddly child becomes overheated, redfaced and mortifying, screaming or clawing at you, crying and kicking off. A proper toddler’s tantrum is a force of nature but they do tend to burn themselves out pretty quickly. And I’ve found its a good thing to try and hug it out afterwards because as scared or disturbed as you have been by the outburst, they cannot begin to deal with the aftermath.
  • U – Ultimatums that usually make no sense because I’m so stressed/embarrassed/ exhausted that I just snap “no more Kindle unless you won’t  promise you won’t be a naughty boy because nice mummies like you nice”. Yeah, threatening.
  • V – violence. From a tiny pinch or a practice bite to all out hair tugging or scratching, I have been bruised and cut, had clumps of hair wrenched out and been kicked in the chest so hard I thought I was going to black out. I have a particularly strong toddler with a blazing temper so I do tend to be on the receiving end when his tantrums or play times turn into assaults. As painful as this is, it’s worse if it happens in public. Profoundly embarrassing.
  • W – Winky. As in, “Please put your winky away… Don’t try and press the buttons on the laptop with your winky…No, I can’t fix it, it’ll go down on its own… ” also, Wine. Sweet sweet wine.
  • X – Xylophone because some bastard bought one as a gift. Bastard.
  • Y – Yucky; Because anything that is rank, toxic or filthy needs to be touched or, Christ have mercy, eaten, each parent has to develop the lingo to show appropriate disgust and horror without swearing. When I notice him picking up someone’s cigarette butt or trying to clean sheep poo from his shoe – with his tongue – obviously I want to scream obscenities and douse him in Dettol. Can’t do that though, not anymore…so you find a way to teach that things are dirty or dangerous but gently, and with kinder more singsong words like ick, or yucky.
  • Z – Obvious but sadly zzzzzzzzz, as in, sleep. You might have a great sleeper who tucks himself up at 7.30pm demanding a story and a kiss good night and that’s it until 7am. I don’t. He rarely caves before 9pm and more often than not I wake up to him snoring gently in my face!
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