Living with toddlers can sometimes feel like being at a frat party gone wrong. Old food crumbs can be found between stained couch cushions at any time, a faint smell of urine seems to permeate from God knows where, and the floor is always just a little sticky. If you have, have had, or know anyone with children, you probably know that 2 and 3 year olds can be challenging. (And yes, all the cliches about it being rewarding, the hardest job you’ll love, and all that are true too.) But lately it seems like I am spending an inordinate amount of time trying – in vain – to make my toddlers act like a rational 30 year olds. Ok, to be honest, it feels more like I am trying to slay wild beasts into submission in the kindest, gentlest, most patient way possible (which, admittedly, may be the problem).
We spend our live trying to teach children how to behave and fit into our polite, well mannered, rational adult world. But maybe I wouldn’t need to drink so much if I just started acting like a 3 year old? I know, society would shame me. But what if we ALL started acting like 3 year olds? If toddlers ruled the world, maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad place.
1. We could operate using the trading system. Forget about money. If you want something, you must find something, anything to trade for it. Some of our biggest hurdles at chez Avery revolve around two boys wanting to play with the same toy. This starts approximately 35 seconds after the second one wakes up. He opens his eyes, blinks for a second, and as the room comes into focus, he finds his brother, zeros in on the target and the beast lurches for whatever toy happens to be in play. And so it begins. It ends approximately 35 seconds before the first goes to sleep. So we’ve instituted the trading system. If you want the garbage truck you have to broker a trade. Sure, someone might get taken (“how about this dirty tissue for the dump truck?”), but if you can sell it, more power to you. Both parties end up happy (I can put a dirty tissue in my mouth, right? Score!) and it usually buys at least another 4 minutes of peace until we have to trade again.
2. Clinging for dear life onto those you love would be honored and totally acceptable. Some may call my kids “mamas boys.” I call them affectionate. Because really, sometimes it’s just sooooo hard to say goodbye to me (as you can imagine). And sometimes, they know just what to do and say to make me stay just one more minute. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe we should all just let our emotions overtake us and hug a little longer and a little tighter.
3. When confronted with wrong-doing, we could all just avoid the questions and promptly change the subject. Is it so bad to have to say, “yes, I did it?” We would accept that this is a universal admission of guilt and move on. (I know, I know, the truth will set you free. But in Toddler World, this is good enough.)
4. We might realize that sometimes pretending is better than the real thing. My boys love to cook. (Really, I have no idea where they get this from.) I’ve been thinking for a while I should get them a proper play kitchen. But everyday, I watch as they use multiple shelves and cabinets for their “oven” and “microwave” and “refrigerator.” And they love it. They happily walk around the house and make it all their kitchen. WAY better than some miniature wooden stand stuck in a corner, right? What we can pretend is almost universally better than reality. I actually hear waves crashing in the distance right now.
5. Time would be a cute concept we would never need to understand. We could operate using a loose “before or after” timeframe: sunrise, food, nap, food, mom starts drinking, moonrise, food.
6. We could all happily be naked! Toddlers understand what so many adults have such a difficult time accepting. There is no shame in the human form – whatever shape it may take. Big bellies are hilarious. Skinny legs? No one cares. Pants are ancillary and shirts? Who needs shirts? Alright, so maybe some of you having lived through a polar vortex might argue about the necessities of clothing. For you, we will concede and promise you can wear the same shirt, everyday, for as many days in a row as you like. No questions asked.
7. Sippy cups for everyone. Need I say more?
8. We would all have access to the wonders of the world. Not grand canyons, great walls and huge pyramids but the other great wonders – flowers, birds, trucks, bugs. Really, if you’ve ever walked half a block with a 2 year old, you know the list is endless. When you walk slowly enough, you realize just how amazing the world can be.
9. Think of the paper we’d save! My beasts are going through a phase. (I’m going to go ahead and call it phase because it. must. end.) They suddenly love coloring – walls, each other, toys, couches – if we just let them rule the world, the unappreciated art of coloring on anything other than paper would finally get some love.
10. Yelling would be the preferred manner of speech. (And I’m pretty sure there is some weird correlation between yelling and endorphins. So, that’s a win.)
11. Throwing a tantrum would be an appropriate way to get what you want. Because mostly, all you really want is for someone to ask you what’s really wrong.
I hear you weary, battle-worn parents. Sometimes the beasts are too much to contain. So on days when you’re too tired to fight the good fight, let them win. Let them rule the world. I’m in. I’m with you. Let’s do it.
Try it for a day?
Curse you, Reality.