Sorry for the slight delay due to my little one’s birthday weekend, but here is part two of the previous post 10 Things I Learned From My Two Year Old Last Year…
Click the link for Part 1, or stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion… this week on DADLUNCH!
5. “Daddy… Do You Want To Play With Me?” (Try And Have As Much Fun As Your Kids Do)
Kids live on the extremes of emotion, and they move between them as fast as balls through a jugglers hands. Let’s try to focus on the positive emotions though. When kids are having fun, they are having the most fun that anyone has ever had in the history of fun. Sure, the downswing is around the corner, but that doesn’t negate the fun part. Try to have as much fun as your kids do while playing with them.
I probably get asked to play with my daughter ten to twelve times a day. If we are already playing, there is always the classic “Ok, but we could play something else!” There are a plethora of activities you can do with your kids, and lord knows there are many days where you feel like you have done all of them for about two minutes each, since toddlers are not known for their impressive attention spans. Almost none of these activities are really that fun for adults (except for slides and ball pits, those are still awesome). The simple reason is that they aren’t for you… they’re for kids. Sure, we have all done the “Hey kid, can we just sit for a minute?” groan that comes after realizing you just finished activity four on their list of “183 Games For A Tuesday Evening”.
However, if you let yourself enjoy your kid having fun as much as they enjoy the actual activity then everyone wins. So just relax, and let yourself enjoy the amazement on their faces as they draw the cinnamon bun card while playing Candy Land… again (don’t be afraid to cheat though, nobody has ever completed a legitimate round of Candy Land, it’s extremely long and painfully boring. If you attempted to do so with an easily distracted toddler you would probably finish right in time for them to start college).
4. No More Spatula… (You Will Be Surprised At The Things You Miss When They Are Done With Them)
My daughter’s first favorite toy was a spatula with a rubber end. She loved the spatula from when she was a few months old until a few months after her first birthday. She would drum on things, and chew on the one end. We always kept a clean backup, because it calmed her down and almost instantly made her giggle. Then one day, the spatula was completely meaningless. It wasn’t a toy, it wasn’t fun, it was just a spatula. She had no idea why her crazy parents would even suggest this was a fun item. If you told me before I was a parent that I would lament the day my daughter gave up her spatula, I would have laughed (and been a little creeped out by your oddly specific prediction about my future). However, that was her first favorite toy, and her dismissing it was just a sign of how quick she was getting older.
Kids grow up so fast, and the things that you thought you didn’t care about, or even the things that may have annoyed you along the way take on an endearing quality while looking back on them. A way they pronounced a word incorrectly or a habit they had that faded naturally as they got older all become memories you are illogically attached to. So enjoy the little oddities and quirks while they have them, because believe it or not, you are going to miss the spatula.
3. “I NEED A COOKIE!” (There Is No Want, Only Need)
One thing to remember about toddlers is that they basically function on a binary system. This creates some pretty amusing interactions around the idea of wants and needs. As adults we are pretty aware of what constitutes a want and what constitutes a need. Toddlers have no clue. Everything is a need, and all needs are equal. Your two year old needs the blue crayon as much as they need a roof over their head. That blue crayon is the gateway to happiness, and all other objects are useless roadblocks thrown down to stop them from getting there. This is why when they don’t get what they want, the meltdowns can be so epic. In their head, they didn’t get the blue crayon… and humanity as we know it is doomed.
Sometimes this is very frustrating, and we just wish they could understand degrees of want. However, you also have to try and find the humor in the absurdity of it all. They aren’t having a meltdown because they want to have a meltdown, they just have no idea how to cope with the fact that the grilled cheese is cut into squares and not triangles.
2. Your Kid Isn’t Perfect… (Good News Is They Don’t Have To Be)
One of the things I always see new parents do that drives me up the wall is constantly compare their kids to other kids. Which kid is walking, talking, sitting, using the toilet, traversing the multiverses of space and time, etc. It’s not fair to you or your kid. Kids all learn to do things at different speeds, and truthfully by the time they get to about three, it’s a relatively even playing field for most of them. We all check milestones, and worry if our child is real late. We also get proud and excited if they do things first. A little bit of this is fine and just human nature, but don’t dwell on it too much. The milestones and the comparison game will drive you completely nuts. Obviously for kids who need extra help due to a plethora of reasons, this could be something you have to monitor more closely, but for most of us it’s just not worth the stress load we give it.
This ties into my other point on the topic. Your kid isn’t perfect. I know… I know, it’s a shock, but really it’s OK. Your kid is going to be awesome at some stuff, and really bad at some stuff. They are going to have meltdowns and tantrums about absurd things. They are gonna tell you they don’t need the bathroom then poop all over your car. They are going to run up to a stranger and tell they they smell funny. All of this is embarrassing and/or frustrating at the time, but try to keep a level head about it. Expect the mistakes and the inappropriateness. I’m not saying ignore these things. Just try to keep a level head, and realize they aren’t perfect, but they will be just fine.
1. It Is Far Easier To Parent Happy… (Don’t Let The Little Things Agitate You Too Much)
If you haven’t realized, there is a running theme to most of my entries on this list and really on this site in general. You have to focus on the positive things when parenting, and try to find the humor in the less positive things. Parenting is hard, and it takes constant dedication. However, it is so much easier if you parent from a happy perspective. I understand that sometimes we all get caught up in the frustration of a current situation with our kids, or we are exhausted and can’t find the energy to be upbeat. That’s fine, we’re human and it happens.
Still, try to smile and laugh a lot. My daughter does something ridiculous several times a day. Sometimes that ridiculous thing is positive and endearing, and sometimes it’s a meltdown and/or an impossible request (a few weeks ago my daughter was upset because she didn’t want toast for breakfast… she wanted toast, and that isn’t a typo). Those moments on both sides of the spectrum are some of the great parts of having kids, and especially young kids. They aren’t ever coming from a place of maliciousness, they are just ridiculous creatures trying to figure out the world around them. Sometimes it makes them overjoyed, and sometimes it makes them upset. We really aren’t much different; toddlers just feel no need to hide their reactions. So, just try to enjoy them and their crazy little worlds.