While it is widely believed that toddlers are best equipped to survive when in captivity, conventional wisdom suggests that they rarely remain subservient to their captors. When scientists observed a focus group known as parents, over 99.9% reported that at some point in the rearing of toddlers, there had been a drastic shift in the dynamic of power, wherein, the toddler demanded and the parent responded. These responses ranged from preparing meals to the toddler’s liking to wiping fecal matter from the toddler’s behind in an attempt to remove the presence of an offensive odor the toddler neither notices nor minds.
As a result, various books have been produced over the decades written by experts ranging from clergy, wherein shaming said toddlers became the mainstay for parents to guilt their child back into submission, to philosophers. A rare breed of narcissistic navel-gazers who express their feelings in terms of colors. Engaging in full-fledged negotiations with the toddler at his eye level, later to discover they’d been robbed of their inner peace and dignity, left only with the fresh scent of patchouli oil.
While both views have merit in some parallel dimensions, where panda-tear latte’s are served with every meal, there are really no 100% effective methods of re-calibrating the balance of power. Instead, there are a list of truisms that seem to reverberate across the board in this particular focus group. Understanding the facts surrounding toddlers is the first step to gaining insight into their tactics. They are as follows:
- Your toddler likely has a close connection with his more primitive animal kingdom counter-part, the monkey. Never is this more evident than at nap time, when placed inside his enclosure, which resembles a prison in every aspect minus a secure ceiling. That singular omission will cost you much of your sleep. The walls of this enclosure are generally polished to a slick sheen; this will slow your toddler, not one bit. The power to weight ratio of a toddler is 6:1. This finite math suggests that, even at full extension, a toddler can lift himself, using his heel as a lever-point, up and over a wall, taller than he, in just under seven seconds. Times vary based upon the weight of the diaper he is wearing at the time of escape. For this reason, it is not advised that you change your toddlers diaper upon request, as it is likely a tactic to lighten his load for a faster escape time and would, otherwise, remain perfectly content to sit in its contents.
- If your toddler throws his food, this means he has had enough of your sub-par cooking for one meal. This does not mean he is full, nor does it excuse you from your kitchen duties, as you will now be expected to clean up after him in preparation for his next meal. In addition, never should you think for one second that whatever you were planning on eating that day is suddenly yours. Even if the amount proportioned for your toddler, which was the exact same thing, was just swept from the floor, indistinguishable from what used to be a remote control (or clicker for anyone with a grandtoddler at home). On the contrary, any bite you consume will likely cost you dearly during the negotiation tactic known as The Tantrum. You may choose to ignore this tactic, but this will likely only prolong this tactic indefinitely and annoy you without recourse. More often than not, you will cave like the Minnesota Viking’s stadium lid, sacrificing the majority of your own meal into topping-off your little bottomless pit. For this reason, toddlers are often referred to as America’s #1 diet and exercise program, turning P90X into T24/7X, now available at beachbody.com.
- If there is a single dirty spot or item in the house, it will be found and spread across all surfaces, starting with his cleanest shirt and freshly washed hair. From there it will be distributed in the following manner: Dry-clean only fabrics, electronics priced highest to lowest; finally, anything with sentimental value will get what remains. If they can’t find a dirty substance, they will manufacture one. For this reason, many parents have found that keeping a basin of rancid water in a small room at toddler level for easy access is the safest way to control the distribution of toxic waste. In this scenario, the above items will merely be collected and thrown haphazardly inside, making them easy to find and fun to retrieve for the whole family.
- Nothing shows off your personal class and sophistication like foam bumpers on the corners of your handmade cherry furniture. Where carefully placed items of value were once displayed, remote controls, cell phones, keys, wallets, open-top beverages, tissue boxes, and various electronic devices now lay. This not only keeps everything of meaning to you in one convenient space, it also motivates your toddler to monkey-climb your shelving to obtain these items. In fact, the simple act of placing an innocuous item, such as a half-drunk, cold cup of coffee on a high shelf, will immediately invalidate whatever distraction you previously gained with the $500 in colored plastic noisemakers, currently strewn across your living room floor. Those are garbage now, and your coffee is suddenly your toddlers sole purpose in life. Put it in a tippie-cup, you say? Go ahead. He won’t want it anymore, and will, instead, occupy his every waking minute focusing on removing the lid.
- Disposable income with toddlers will, most definitely, be converted into disposable diapers and wipes. An investment without a return, despite the fact that deposits are made routinely, usually upon the fastening of the final snap of a onesie or the securing of the final strap on a car seat.
The above is not an exhaustive list, by any means. Nor does it offer you a single solution to these problems. If I had the answers to these problems, I would not be writing this blog to you. I would be in robes on a mountain in Tibet. But, solutions aside, the toddler, with his messes and constant need for every ounce of your time and energy, is still, far and away, the most wonderful thing you could ever have your life turned up-side-down for. I have been blessed with two. A CTRL-C, CTRL-V of one another; yet, somehow, completely unique to themselves. Two identical individuals with two sets of needs, wants, and desires.
It makes life fun and sleep scarce. If I were to leave you with one piece of advice it would be this: Your stuff is unimportant and replaceable. The time you spend (jokingly) in servitude to your toddler(s) will quickly be your favorite thing in the world to return from work for. Otherwise, you would just point the nose of your vehicle North and drive until the engine consumes the final drops of fuel in the tank. From there, you would walk further in the same direction until you collapsed in exhaustion.
Then you would crawl.