When I had my first son, I spent a lot of time thinking
about all of the milestones he’d go through. Sitting up, crawling, eating solid
food, walking and talking are the things all moms focus on in that first year.
And then, suddenly, I had a toddler.
While that stage is no less amazing or
interesting than the first year, there were a lot of things I didn’t think
about before they happened. Most importantly, I didn’t think about how mobile my
son would be. And what that would mean to my house and my sanity.
If your baby is quickly approaching the toddler stage, here
are the things I can guarantee you will experience with your toddler. If you
have more than one child in the 1 to 3 age bracket, you will likely get to
experience them twice! And if your kid is already out of the toddler stage, I
bet you will nod in sympathy. I wish I could say this is a comprehensive list,
but if having two toddlers has taught me anything it’s that what one doesn’t
think to do, the other one will. Hold on tight and remember: it’s only a stage!
1. Your toddler will color or paint something she is not
supposed to color or paint.
It might be your new sofa or it might be the kitchen
walls. You might not see it right away because it’s not in a conspicuous place
(like when my toddler took a blue marker to the inside of my walk-in closet) or
you might spot it as soon as you walk in the room. Regardless of the canvas,
your toddler will have a moment (possibly more than one) of pure, spontaneous
joy and take her marker or paintbrush to something she knows she’s not supposed
to apply marker or paint to. When asked, “Why did you do this?” (and try not to
wail when you ask), she will shrug, smile and say, “I don’t know. It’s pretty!”
Practice this mantra: “It is only hair. It will grow.”
2. Your toddler will cut his own hair.
It will happen. I don’t
care how high you put the scissors or how many times you say, “Don’t play with
the scissors,” he will inevitably find a pair of scissors and take them to his
hair (or his brother’s hair) and give himself a haircut reminiscent of an '80s
punk rocker. Practice this mantra: “It is only hair. It will grow.”
3. Your toddler will shove something so far up her nose you are
afraid she has hit her brain.
The first time it happens, you will panic and take
your child to urgent care where they will extract it with a long pair of
tweezers. “It” might be a Lego block, a piece of cereal or a bead, but for a few moments
it will be the scariest thing in the world. In most instances, holding the
opposite nostril closed and instructing the kid to “Blow! Blow hard!” will
resolve the issue. But the grossness of the event will stay with you always.
4. Your toddler will flush something down the toilet.
heaven help you if you only have one bathroom. I don’t know why toddlers are so
fascinated with toilets—the water, the sound, the cool flushing mechanism?—but they
are. And at some point, no matter how diligent you are, no matter how many
times you reinforce, “Nothing goes in the toilet except pee, poop and toilet
paper!” your sweet toddler will decide to flush something (maybe a wash cloth,
maybe a bath toy, maybe his sibling's doll) and you will stand by helplessly as
the toilet overflows and your toddler squeals with glee. Keep a plunger handy
and brace yourself, because once he sees how much fun it is, he will do it
5. Your toddler will tell a stranger something terribly
This isn’t so bad. Really. It will most likely occur in a public
restroom and will involve some sort of bodily function. “Mama, you’re going
poop!” will elicit laughs from the stalls around you, but you will survive the
embarrassment. Just hang out in the bathroom until the stalls empty and slink
6. Your toddler will tell someone you know something
Remember, there are always little ears listening. So
when you say something about your mother-in-law’s cooking or your next door
neighbor’s political leanings, keep in mind that your toddler might just blurt
something out at the next potluck.
7. Your toddler will answer the door or the phone when you are
in the shower.
It doesn’t matter how many times you say, “Do not answer the
door, do not answer the door!” If the doorbell rings, your toddler will manage
to unlock even the child-proof lock and inform the person at the door that, “Mommy
is naked in the shower!” Keep a robe handy and leave the bathroom door open so
you can hear the doorbell.
Like Liam Neeson, they will find
8. Your toddler will sneak out the door when you aren’t
This isn’t funny, at least not when it’s happening, and it can be one
of the scariest things a parent can experience. Kids do things out of curiosity
and impulse. Knowing it will happen at some point won’t keep you from panicking
when you see the door standing wide open, but remind yourself that it happens
to all of us at least once and it’ll be OK. (Also, a security alarm or even a string
of jingle bells tied to the doorknob will alert you of your little one’s
9. Your toddler will find that thing you hid from them when
they can’t find their own socks in their own drawer.
Their Christmas presents,
that ridiculously loud toy that drives you crazy, the big bottle of bubbles
that you were saving for the birthday party? Like Liam Neeson, they will find
it. Their uncanny ability to tease out the best hiding places in your house is
worthy of a spy novel. Your best bet is to store things you don’t want them to
have at a friend's house (or throw it in an outside garbage can when they're asleep).