Toddlers have a well-earned reputation for tantrums and also for being terribly, terribly cute.
My daughter has her moments. Yesterday, we were taking a perfectly lovely walk around the neighbourhood together. My daughter was pushing her stuffed dog in a doll stroller (terribly cute) and me, holding our Tim Hortons smoothies (terribly toddler-whipped). Suddenly my daughter threw herself on the sidewalk in a puddle of tears in response to my request that she not turn around and walk in the opposite direction of our house. That's it.
That's all it took to transform my daughter from terribly cute toddler into a snotty, dirty, mess of a child lying on the ground just a few feet from our house. So I did what any compassionate mom would do. I let her continue to scream while I calmly sipped my smoothie.
Of course, this is when our neighbour decided to take his dog for a walk. He looked at my daughter, screaming as if the world was ending, then at me, sipping away as if lounging on a beach in Hawaii.
"Is she ok? Is she sick or something?" he asked, horrified.
"No. She's a toddler," I shrugged, slurping up the end of my drink.
This is the same neighbour who asked if I was pregnant again when the baby was two-weeks old due to my post-baby belly. Suffice to say this neighbour does not have kids.
The reason I could remain so calm is simple. I have kids and I know that toddlers are bipolar. Mine is, at least. Five minutes after I scraped her off the ground, she was cuddling and giggling on my lap.
I know that toddlers are known for a few outrageous antics from acting like nudists to drinking the bath water. They play by their own rulebooks and manage to surprise the most unflappable parents.
According to Harvey Karp, a pediatrician and author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block, it's totally normal because toddlers are like caveman. Toddlers spit and scratch when they are angry, they pee in the living room, and put food in their hair.
It's probably not perfect, but I pick my battles. If my daughter is reaching for the light socket, discipline ensues. If she goes on a binge of biting our guests, it's time to get serious. A meltdown in front of our neighbours? I sip that smoothie.
Based on unsolicited advice and well-meaning books, I figure that being consistent is most important, so that's my goal. No means no.
I also try and enthusiastically encourage my daughter when she does something great like eat her dinner. It's my "positive reinforcement" experiment. I'll let you know if it was successful when she is a teenager.
Toddlers are also very cute. I think God designed them this way on purpose, redeeming themselves with the "cute factor" before we ship them off to military preschool.
A toddler can make anything sound cute: "Tank you." "Uh-oh." "Stalin." Anything. Cute. We should've unleashed toddlers during the NHL contract negotiations. "Hockey please!" And ... boom, the season would've started on time. It's the power of the toddler.
When you factor the toddler cuteness into the equation, it makes antics easier to take. After all, toddlers like my daughter are just figuring this world out and it's amazing to be part of the experience.
For more ramblings on motherhood in the Sea to Sky, visit mountainmam.ca.