Toddlers are funny creatures. They have the emotions of a pubescent teenage girl with no maturity to process them (nor do teenage girls). They are fiercely independent and never stop moving. They are stubborn and always think they know what’s best. As a parent, you have to walk the line between peace and discipline, but a toddler has his own ideas. What do you think a toddler would say to another toddler, to teach him how to be a successful toddler? This is my imagining of how it would go.
Look. Being a toddler is rough. Mom is boss (she thinks) and you’re always too little to do anything actually fun (so they say). I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way. If you follow my step by step instructions for how to be a success in toddler-hood, you’ll never go wrong. Below is a list of twelve rules or guidelines to follow if you want to be the best you can be.
*Note: The writer will not be held responsible for any punishments, swats, timeouts or otherwise as a result of following these guidelines. Use this list at your own risk.
12 What He Has Is Always Better
It absolutely does not matter what ‘it’ is. It does not matter if you’re playing with the coolest choo choo in Tidmouth Shed, if Brother picks up so much as a drinking straw, you must take it. Don’t get deterred when he cries. He always will. He’ll understand when he has someone younger to peaceably relieve of toys. It’s best if you can hang on to the choo choo as well. Keep both and if Brother picks up another object, take it too. Repeat. Repeat until you are in possession of all toys/interesting objects/things neither of you should have.
This goes for food as well. It may seem to Mom that you both have identical lunches of peanut butter and jelly with apples, but you have eyes. You know. Brother got the most apples AND the best peanut butter to jelly ratio. Loudly demand to switch. If that doesn’t work, dump your plate on the floor and insist on a do-over.
11 Never Accept A Meal On Its First Offering
This brings us handily to our next rule. NEVER accept a meal on its first offering. If you requested “chickens and applesauce”, vehemently deny those words have ever crossed your lips. Instead request a PB&J. If Mom’s annoyed enough, she’ll probably make it and serve the first meal to Brother. He doesn’t know any better. Once you have your sandwich immediately try to switch with Brother because you TOLD HER CHICKENS AND APPLESAUCE!!!
If Mom tries to trick you and ask you want YOU want, say no to everything, including what you really want. She’ll try and trip you up, offering the same thing multiple times but remain firm. NO. Then when she says she doesn’t care what you eat (she does), request the cheese sandwich she offered at least three times.
10 Naps Are For Chumps
Naps are completely overrated. I know kids our age who’ve stayed awake for at least 14 hours at a time. Only grown-ups and babies need a nap in the middle of the day. Once you see Mom getting Brother ready for nap, loudly announce that you’re going to stay up for a little while. When she says no you’re not, hide. Always hide under a blanket on the couch. It always stumps her and she’ll sit on you multiple times. Do not laugh. She doesn’t know you’re there. Eventually, she’ll cotton on (Moms can be slow sometimes) and she’ll try to pick you up. Two words. Spaghetti limbs. Go limp. You’ll slide right out and have another chance of escape.
As Mom is bigger and stronger (just wait, Mom), she’ll likely be able to manhandle you into your room. Request the light stay on. Ask for water. Make sure the room is clear of all debris. When she shuts the door, bang on it loudly and tell her she must return to cover you up. Don’t allow her to cover you up. She’ll leave again. This time cry and tell her you must put this item (choose something at random) in the living room. When she says she’ll do it, cry some more. Waste time and play for 1.5 hours. Lie down in your bed and fall asleep for thirty minutes and when Mom wakes you up, cry loudly and be cranky for the rest of the night.
9 The Toilet Is A Magical And Terrifying Thing
The toilet is a magical thing. If you flush it, water swirls around and makes a wooshing sound. You can put toys in there and flush it and they DISAPPEAR! Until the man comes after the toilet spews water all over the floor and uses that snaky thing to pull it back out again. Don’t listen to Mom when she tells you the water’s dirty. The dog drinks out of it all the time. You just want to splash around a little.
The toilet is a terrifying thing. Don’t ever let her make you sit on one. Did you see what happened to Batman when you flushed the toilet? Do you want the same thing to happen to you? Mom will try to reassure you, but you know the truth. They make you sit there as punishment for hitting Brother and the minute they let go, WOOSH! Down you’ll go.
8 Crackers Are Acceptable For All Meals
Don’t listen to Mom when she says you can’t have crackers for breakfast. Crackers are delicious any time of day. Ritz, Saltine, Goldfish… I could go on. They are all delicious. Mom will try to tell you that you need variety. Fruits, vegetables and protein. This isn’t true. All you need are crackers. They satisfy and they are sufficiently crumbly to make the biggest mess possible.
Don’t forget to tell Mom that you can always add peanut butter if she’s afraid you’re not getting enough protein. Bonus: Peanut butter makes an even bigger mess! Don’t forget to smear some in an undisclosed location so you can taste it again later! Cheese is an acceptable protein source only in the event that there is no peanut butter in the house. Cheerios are acceptable if crackers are unavailable.
7 Learn To Climb At The Youngest Possible Age
Climbing is great fun and you don’t have to wait to learn to do it! Once you’ve started standing and pulling up on things, you basically have all the skills needed for climbing. Don’t hesitate. Lean over a chair, grasp the other side and pull your body up. Once up, stand. From there it’s an easy crawl to the table. Sit (or better, stand) in the center of the table until Mom notices. Her reaction will be priceless!
Once you’ve mastered the chair to table climb, a whole world of things open up. You can use the same chair to get on counters to reach all those things Mom won’t let you play with (knives, blender, toaster). Eventually, you’ll be able to add outdoor climbing to your repertoire. When Brother climbs up the climbing wall into the fort to go down the slide, follow! Mom and Dad won’t know what to do!
6 Always Refuse To Be Dressed
Never allow your parents to dress you. Wearing clothes sucks. In the morning upon waking, remove all pajamas that Mom or Dad managed to wrestle you into, and walk around in only your soggy, heavy Pull-up or diaper. If it’s a Pull-up, it will eventually fall off, hopefully before Mom gets there to help you change. Naked is best, but usually you’ll have to put up with at least a diaper, Pull-up or underwear. Mom says visitors get uncomfortable when we walk around naked.
When it’s time to go and you have to get dressed make it as difficult as possible for Mom to show your displeasure. First, hide. Remember, we hide under the blanket on the couch. If Mom can’t see your legs, she can’t put pants on you. Mom will threaten to leave you behind by yourself. Don’t fret. This won’t ever happen.
5 Always Demand A Bandaid When Injured Even Slightly
If you injure yourself, always request a bandaid. Mom will tell you that if there’s no blood, you don’t need a bandaid but this isn’t true. A bandaid always helps. It takes away pain. That’s science. If you bump your head, demand a bandaid because that freakin’ hurts! It doesn’t matter that you have hair. It will make it feel better, for sure.
The same goes for medicine. If Brother gets medicine, it’s only fair that you do as well. Mom will tell you that you’re not sick so you don’t need it but of course you know better! If you hurt your leg, ask for Zyrtec. If you scrape your palms, you must have an antibiotic-the pink stuff. That’s the best.
4 Become Obsessed With Random Shows
My current favorite show is “Kitmas George.” It has all my favorite things. Christmas and monkeys. I ask to watch it at least twelve times a day, on repeat. You can never get enough Curious George. It doesn’t matter what the show is. If you like it, obsess over it. Request viewing as often as you can. Mom will try to distract you with other activities or even other shows but don’t be deterred.
It’s best if you obsess over holiday themed shows because they will cause Mom the most irritation. For some reason grown-ups don’t want to think about a holiday after it’s passed. Why? I don’t know. It’s a mystery to me! Christmas is the best fun, why wouldn’t you want to celebrate all the time?
3 Pay Attention In The Car And Call Out Random Directions
By the time you’re two, you have sufficient experience to become a backseat driver. If you don’t know, backseat drivers tell the driver where to go and when to drive faster and how loud the radio should be and what food we need to stop for. They are very helpful to the driver because the driver doesn’t have to think about what to do except drive! They are basically navigators. Who needs GPS?
It’s ok if you don’t know the words left, right, north or south. You don’t have to know the cardinal directions. Just vaguely call out, “Go that way!” and yell when Mom ignores you. Demand McDonald’s when you see the yellow arches. Yell when she ignores you. Tell her you don’t want to go to the grocery store and request she drive to Grandma’s. Let her know you will not be ignored because your job is now Backseat Driver.
2 Never Ask Brother To Play Unless Brother Doesn’t Want To
For the most part, little brothers are annoying and playing with them is a bummer. So when he tries to play with you, ignore him. If he takes a car you haven’t touched in ten minutes, scream loudly, take it from him and bonus points if you bop him on the head with the car. He’ll cry. Of course.
Sometime you may want him to play with you, but be sure to time it when he absolutely has no interest in playing with you and is occupied doing something he thinks is more fun. Be assured that it’s not more fun. What you have in mind is way better and so forcibly demand he play. Grab his arm to remove him from whatever dumb thing he is doing and try to take him to where you are playing. He will cry. Of course. But you will prevail because you are bigger and smarter. Insist that he play. It’ll be a great experience for everyone involved.
1 Tantrums Are Not Private Affairs
Don’t waste your tantrums at home! It’s best if you can share them with the world. Wait until you’re in Target, ask for something you know Mom will say no to like candy at nine am or an expensive toy. When she inevitably says no, that’s your cue. Drop to your knees, scream, yell, cry and beat the floor. If you can lay down and kick your feet, all the better. If you’re in a cart, grasp the handle and shake the cart until you think it might fall apart. Make as much noise as possible. It’s great fun because Mom gets lots of disapproving looks from older ladies and it’s her punishment for using the N-word. (No.)
Target, Kroger, Harris Teeter, Whole Foods or any department store are the best places for tantrums. Don’t bother trying it in Walmart. Everyone has tantrums in Walmart. Even grown-ups.