Being a parent is a challenging gig. And child rearing in the early years is a freak show of its own because let’s face it, toddlers are outrageous. They’re practically cavemen! They express themselves freely with little (if any) reservations and as a result, anything goes. My toddler performs all kinds of crazy, he throws handfuls of food just for laughs and then screams when there’s no food left to eat; he slaps his own face when upset and then cries in shock when it hurts. But please, don’t let the antics fool you. He’s much smarter than the grunts and limited vocab let on, so trust me when I say: don’t teach him that.
Look, I get it, toddlers are cute. Their shameless, curious, and the barbaric nature is all part of their charm. Have you seen how happy boundless freedom makes a toddler? Better yet, have you seen how quickly a “no” can revert them to the dark side? A toddler’s wrath can be straight up demonic. So stopping a bratty tike doesn’t always come easy. Especially when it’s not your kid. But trust me when I say: DON’T TEACH HIM THAT!
Please understand that I have to take the kid home with me and there’s no way he’s going to forget all the fun he had running amok on your watch. When I herald, “Dylan has someone’s phone! Whose phone is that?” I’m not only trying to protect your technology from the clumsy, chubby fingers of my little guy, I’m also protecting myself. So when you reply with, “It’s okay, it’s an old phone. He can play with it.” Uhm, no. Just look at him! Throwing it on the tile floor and laughing, smashing the screen with his hands, oh and now, he’s stomping on it. My toddler can’t tell the difference between phone models and can’t identify what’s valuable and what isn’t. But what he does know, is that he finally got a taste of the forbidden fruit and it’s time to juice it. That’s when my psychic abilities kick into overdrive and premonitions of my phone being eradicated by a giggling 1 year old flood my mind’s eye and I really can’t see anything else.
Look, I understand. Their conduct is seemingly innocent behavior in toddler-world. But when my boy gets caught hitting your youngin’ because he wants a toy all to himself, I will intervene with a, “Dylan, no hitting. That’s not nice, say sorry.” EVERY TIME. And when he resists the apology, hits again, and you interject with, “Oh, it’s okay!” Please know that it’s not. It’s really, really not. Sure, my violent tot isn’t intentionally trying to inflict pain when he swats a child, he isn’t evil or cruel, and I realize he’s just expressing how he feels in the moment in the only way he knows how (i.e. I don’t feel like sharing, back off.). And okay- he lacks impulse control and is as feral as a scarred ally cat, but I have this mindset that prevents me from allowing him to lay the smack down; I call it parenting.
Let me be clear: While I revere the kindness bestowed upon my little guy and the impassive demeanor towards the untamed, whirlwind of buffoonery that is toddler life is very much appreciated- I must civilize the brute. So when you see me getting all authoritative with boundaries and shit, please adhere. I don’t expect [or want] you to discipline my toddler, but please trust me when I say: Don’t teach him that. It takes a village.