When people first met my two-week-old daughter, many people told me the same things. Phrases such as, “You are going to LOVE the sweet cooing noises she makes while she sleeps!” and, “She will grow up so fast, so enjoy every moment!” were common. As a new parent, I learned to smile graciously and act like I’d never heard those sentences before. Now that my daughter is two, I can’t help but feel that I ought to go back in time and shake those people while screaming, “Why didn’t you tell me about all of the UNadorable things she would do as a toddler?!?!!” It seems that every day brings two new Toddler Rules to contend with, and I always feel one step behind.
In the few short months that my daughter has been a toddler, I’ve learned many lessons from these rules. As a parent in the trenches of the Terrible Twos, I feel it is my duty to share the most important lessons with you.
Favorite foods are fluid in nature.
One week my daughter absolutely adores grapes! She wants them at every meal, in between meals, and right before bed. Logically, I buy a 4-lb container at Costco for all of her cravings. Not even 24 hours later, she refuses to eat a grape.
Lesson Learned – Do not buy “favorite foods” in bulk, because chances are it won’t be a favorite for long.
The word “No” is their favorite AND least favorite word in the entire English vocabulary.
When I ask my daughter to hold my hand while walking outside, she shouts, “No!” as she pulls both arms close to her body and tries to run away from me. Later, she will point to a bottle of wine on the counter and say, “Some please.” However, upon me telling her, “No, I’m sorry baby. That’s a drink for adults,” she will absolutely dissolve into tears while melting into the floor, where she proceeds to roll around while screaming and kicking.
Lesson Learned – Toddlers can dish it, but they can’t take it.
Toddlers always learn the words that you do not intend for them to learn.
Trying to teach my daughter how to say, “Coffee” becomes a scene out of Family Guy – “Say ‘Cah’.” “Cah!” “Good! Now say, ‘Fee’.” “Fee!” “Coffee.” “Fossee!” However, one slip of the S-word while driving, and it becomes her new favorite word that she says with excitement for days on end.
Lesson Learned – Condition yourself to use cute substitutions like “sugar” and “frack” now.
What once was safe is now in danger every day.
She’s tall enough to reach items on the counter. She can unscrew the toothpaste cap and use the toothpaste as lotion. She has invented a new game called How Many Times Can I Open And Close This Door In Ten Seconds (the answer is always “too many”).
Lesson Learned – The once-impossible tasks become routine for a toddler.
Of course, there are also many wonderful lessons to learn from toddlers. A hug and a kiss can make a negative situation so much better. Spinning in circles in the living room can bring the greatest joy at a stressful time. You never need to apologize for singing “The Wheels On The Bus” loudly while grocery shopping. Regardless, it’s nice to have fair warning of some of the specific rules that you will no doubt encounter as the parent of a toddler.