At swimming lessons recently Archie has taken to removing his googles from his head, swinging them around and launching them across the pool. "How hilarious" you think. His poor swimming teacher is constantly fishing Archie's goggles from the pool and sticking them back on his head until.. yup. Across the pool again. I apologised to the mum of the other boy in his class, out of mum duty and politeness. To my relief, she says "oh, it doesn't affect me. I don't have to get them". She then laughed and said she hadn't noticed because she was watching her son continually float under the table in the water, hoping he didn't get stuck under there every time and giving him 'the eye'.
At this point, I looked around the swim centre. OH MY GOSH. They were all the same.
I had been so preoccupied with Archie's distracting behaviour, I hadn't noticed all the other distracting behaviours happening around the room. There was penis flashing, tantrums, food being thrown, threats being aimed regarding Paw Patrol toys and chants of "the Easter Bunny won't be coming to out house".
I am certainly not one to celebrate another parent's unfortunate tantrum-endurance but GOSH it was nice not to feel so alone in my struggle. I wanted to go over and hug every single one of them. "Mine too! Mine loves to run away with no pants on yelling rudey nudey!" "Mine loves to ask for cheese and biscuits and then tell me he doesn't like that cheese and those biscuits" "Mine also gets out of the pool and runs straight to the toy car telling me he lives there now and wants to sleep the night!"
Before you have children, people give you lots of advice and tell you a million different things you should and shouldn't do. But no one ever tells you the WEIRD and loudly embarrassing shit they will do. A parent starter pack should be less telling me about pumping techniques and more telling me what to do when he asks women at the shops if they have a baby in their stomach.
Here are some actual things I wish I knew before having a toddler/small human child:
Don't spoil them, you need those toys as bribes at Christmas.
Baby crying is NOTHING. NOTHING compared to "why".
Don't assume that a toddler asking for a sandwich means they want a sandwich.
Don't assume that after checking with a toddler that he still wants a sandwich and he says yes, that he still wants a sandwich.
Things that are easily crushed into a million pieces are not suitable for car-eating.
Don't you dare put a movie on for them unless you are comfortable watching it another 75,000 times.
Sharing means sharing other peoples things, not your own.
Toddlers are effectively just smaller versions of stoned roommates. They love to eat yellow-coloured carb foods and fall asleep at the table.
Poo will be on at least one rug.
Buy lots of books, you will get real bored of the same ones.
When you look at them sleeping, will absolutely love them so much your heart will explode and you'll want to wake them up because you miss them.
It will be 6am and you will count how many hours until it is bedtime again.
I got Twitter shamed by a user last month for putting a video up of Archie dancing on his chair in timeout. Firstly, how freaking adorable was the video. Secondly, as a new mum I didn't even realise timeouts were a punishment worthy of shame. I figured it to be far up the line of acceptable punishments, right after stern talk to and before toy in rubbish bin.
Now - I have no formal training in diplomatic relations with a 3-year-old. This is my first child and he's very independent. But I definitely thought I was nailing some sweet-ass parenting when timeout was a recognised and accepted punishment that resulted in better listening, particularly in public. I have an unbelievable mothers group and friends to talk to about this but really -
We are all learning on the job here.
I realised after reading that comment that due to my oversharing online, maybe I had put myself in a position where people could judge me or my parenting, and there's not really anything I can do about that. It definitely forced me to read a lot of literature on the subject. Surely though, it would be better for us as a community of mums/dads and as a society if we all stood to become a little more "mine does that too".
Now that Archie is 3 1/2 he's almost through the threenage years and is fairly easy to negotiate with and timeouts are long behind us. I told myself before he could talk that I'd always answer any why as long as he asked it in a full sentence. He understands cause and affect and he knows he is safely within boundaries. But all this stuff was a jumble of learning day to day, a beautiful absorbent sponge child and a VILLAGE of people around me, helping me. We aren't meant to do this all by ourselves. It's a child-by-child basis and every single day is a new challenge.
Seeing other parents on a three-coffee morning with that look in their eye when they haven't slept and their kid just tipped juice over his sister's head and they are on their way to judgey-grandmas house for lunch doesn't make me happy but it does makes me exhale a long breath I had probably been holding since my own child did something I thought EVERYONE was watching and judging me for.
If you had a week of weird toddler behaviour. If your kid keeps asking why the Easter bunny knows where they live and if it's trespassing. If you had to hide your dark chocolate inside a musli bar wrapper "oh, I like chocolate mum. Could I have a taste?". If you are still trying to explain DUSK to a three year old. If you had to have the talk about the dead duckling laying in the middle of your street yesterday. If you are trying to get your child to say "please" when you say "ask" but they JUST KEEP REPEATING THE WORD ASK IN DIFFERENT WAYS - I hear you. Let's do it together! <3
^ My threenager