By Tamsin Kelly
Being a parent of a toddler involves a strange mixture of pride and desperation.
It’s endlessly entertaining being with a small person who’s becoming more of an individual with every passing day and every new word learned. Not to mention all those very decided likes and dislikes.
But when your toddler is testing that newly discovered independence again and again – and “again!” – there can be days when gin o’clock can’t come around fast enough. Here, parents of toddlers reveal their weird and wonderful world.
Toddlers Love To Share – Just Not Their Stuff
Toddlers don’t do embarrassment, the lucky things. They’re all for telling it how it is. “My three-year-old daughter loves to ask if I’ve farted because it’s really stinky on the bus,” says Jessica Knight from Bristol, mum of Eva. “That one’s unwinnable, because the more I say ‘Shhh, I didn’t’ the more she insists I have while holding her nose. I’m trying to teach her the difference between public things and private, so now she does stage whispers to ask personal questions about people, like ‘is that lady going to die because she’s so old?’”
Janine Christopher, from Bromley, South London, mum to Tom, three, is all too familiar with toddler over-sharing. “My son’s trick is to shout at the top of his voice, ‘I neeed a poo – it’s coming!’ when we’re shopping. By the time I’ve abandoned the shopping trolley and rushed him to the loo, of course he’s much more interested in talking about the gap between the door and the floor. He also loves to tell total strangers he’s wearing ‘big boy pants’ and then show them.”
While being masters of making their parents cringe with their no filter truth-telling, toddlers really don’t like to share objects (favoured or just found), space and favourite food. ‘Mine’ and ‘NOOOO!’ are your toddler’s too favourite words, followed by a snatch or a shove.
It’s All About Distraction
“Toddlers are total bzzz brains,” says Oli Winn, from Cardiff, dad of two-year-old twins, Celeste and Lin. “The trick is to catch their attention at that vital pause between the moment and their response, so if they’ve fallen over you shout ‘look, swings’ and they jump up, forgetting they ‘hurt’ themselves. I am a master of diversion now because I so don’t want to do a head-to-head with my twins if I can help it.”
From the ‘look at the [insert something quite dull but said in an ultra excited voice]’ tactic to turning them upside down, distraction works so much better with toddlers than a battle of wills and wails.
Even when you’ve got past the nappy stage, you’ll still be touting a huge bag round with you full of assorted plastic dinosaurs, tissues and wet wipes and tupperware pots of ‘healthy’ snacks.
“We call it the distraction bag,” says Ellie Gibson of Scummy Mummies, mother to Charlie, seven, and Joe, three. “You have to plan a meal in a restaurant like a military operation. If you’re lucky, you’ll get 24 minutes of peace.”
Masters Of Tantrums
Your toddler may be crying because they are tired, hungry or out of their normal routine. Those are the sensible adult-knows-best reasons. But, according to your toddler, the real reason for a full-on tantrum on the pavement, body taut, legs, kicking, tears gushing down red face, is just as surreal as it’s heart-felt.
You only have to look at the phenomenally successful Reasons My Kid Is Crying with thousands of parents sharing hilarious photos of shrieking children and bewildering illogical reasons to know you are not alone.
“This morning Tom threw a strop because he wanted to put his own shoes on but refused to admit they were on the wrong feet,” says Janine.
One of the best bits about being a parent of a toddler is the phenomenal rate at which they learn new words – about 10 a day between the age of two and three – and copy phrases and mannerisms. “What dat mummy?” is the constant refrain of all your wanders. And the mispronunciations are glorious.
“My daughter proudly announced she liked big dicks to our friends,” says Becky Friedland, from Tottenham, North London and mum to three-year-old Poppy.
“She meant sticks.”
Just Do It!
Being with a toddler helps you realise how constrained by social niceties we big people are.
Effortlessly nibbling their toes, having a good nose dig, licking everything from mummy’s nose to the front door, spinning round in circles giggling, getting naked anywhere… toddlers are in touch with their bodies and all their senses.
“Toddlers are amazing, they live in the moment and their emotions are so pure. They teach us never to miss an opportunity to have fun and grab at life,” says Nicola Furst, from Liverpool and mum of toddler Evie, two.