Thoughts on Raising a Toddler

For the uninitiated, I grew up on a small farm. We had cows, chickens, horses, a few ducks over the years, dogs, cats, and the occasional goat and hog. So I grew up around baby animals. My grandparents raised beagles and Norwegian elk hounds for years, we had the stray cat that would come up and have kittens, and of course 20 or 30 baby calves in the spring.

I always joked that if I could raise a well behaved dog or horse it couldn't be that hard to raise a person. I mean you don't have to housebreak a human till they are almost three. Absolutely unheard of in a dog! I've never been a big human baby person. I could ohh and ahh over puppies, kitties, colts, and calves all day but babies always intimidated me. That could have something to do with why I waited until I had been married five years and was thirty before I got pregnant.

So here are some of my observations about childrearing and toddlers so far.

1. Take all your books, training manuals, old wives tales, and friends/family's rules on child raising and throw them out the window. Your child is a beautiful, smart, infuriating, irritating, loving individual. Find your own way and let all the naysayers go to the devil.

2. Babies like puppies can piddle at unexpected times. Always be prepared with a changing pad unless you want to have to wash the quilt on your bed at 11:30 at night.

3. I don't like frilly girly clothes and neither does my girl. She doesn't like bows of any description (thank the good Lord above) and it looks like I'm on my way to raising a bona fied tom boy. Something I intend to encourage. I also don't feel bad about it. If my baby's happy so am I.

4. While your baby may eat steamed broccoli like it's going out of style one day, they may literally throw it at you the next. Just roll with it. As long as they are eating, sometimes that's half the battle.

5. Do not be alarmed if your child does not like rice cereal. Hell, I don't like rice cereal. I tried it one night after giving her a spoonful induced a crying screaming fit the likes of which I haven't seen since 8th grade basketball. The stuff is horrible. Try applesauce instead or mashed sweet potatoes or mashed carrots or anything else on God's green earth.

6. There will come a day when you are late for work due to an explosive bowel movement. Do like I did, take pictures. I promise you no one will mind that you were late after seeing them. They will honestly probably be impressed you even showed up.

7. Pacifiers are the devil. Do your best to not use them, if you do, try to take them away as soon as you can. Allie's disappeared one night around 16/18 months. Her attention span is short enough that she forgot about it by the morning and hasn't asked for it back. See point number 1 though, your experience may differ.

8. Battery operated swings are straight from heaven. Invest in C batteries and buy, beg, borrow, or steal a swing. They are one piece of baby equipment that is definitely worth it.

9. When your child is learning to walk they may be too short for the walker. Don't worry, they will be so busy pulling up on everything at that point you probably won't even need it. To me it was nice to have but she probably only used it about a month.

10. Don't freak out over little things like dirt, crusty noses, or general griminess. Let your kid be a kid. I promise it won't hurt them, and you'll be building up their immune system.

11. If you don't want to listen to Barney music in the car don't start. There's no reason why you should have to subject yourself to children's music unless you want to, and I promise the kid won't mind. Allie has been riding to work with me since she was 8 weeks old. In 20 months we have yet to listen to one second of saccharin children's music. My day might be coming, but there is plenty of good music you and your child can listen to together. Same goes for the TV at home. She plays with her toys and reads her books. She doesn't even pay attention to the TV much. I am proud to say that she can entertain herself with toys and her imagination. I've got years of kids movies to look forward to, I'll enjoy this while I can.

12. One night/morning/afternoon/entire day your baby will cry and nothing you can do will soothe them. This is when you have to lay them down, cut off the light, and let them sort it out on their own. You're not a bad momma. Repeat that with me. You're not a bad momma.

13. Don't be ashamed to drop them off at the baby sitter in the morning after a hard night/morning. Sometimes momma's just gotta go to work, type some reports, and let the babysitter deal with it.

14. Your baby does not expect you to be superwoman. At this age, they love you no matter what. That simple thing is awesome. As long as you love that baby, that's all anyone should ask of you.

15. Your child will probably like the box better than the present inside. Be prepared, don't get your feelings hurt, and get ready for cuteness to ensue. I promise it will make up for them ignoring your thoughtfully chosen present.

16. Your child might be smart enough that you have to make them give up the bottle. Mine was sly enough that she was using the sippy cup at school but refusing to use it at the house. I spent an entire Saturday morning dodging a sippy cup being lobbed at my head before she figured out that she was not getting the bottle back. It's been smooth sailing after that. (Again see point number 1.)

17. Speaking of bottles, not all bottle nipples are built the same. You might have to try out a couple before you find what works for your child. You also might spend a morning digging the "disposable" ones they gave you at the hospital out of the trash, sterilizing them, and using them the rest of her bottle feeding months.

This is a decision that every woman should be able to make on their own and not be berated by doctors, nurses, family, friends, or the garbage man. I had chosen not to breast feed, but then the decision was really taken out of my hands when my milk never came in. Period. I had a doctor and a nurse try to start with me and both were told it was none of their darn business. Take a stand for your decision and be proud of that choice.

19. Your baby probably won't wear shoes until they start walking unless you have your child in the winter. Don't worry about having more than one or two pairs of shoes. Their little feet grow so fast it's ridiculous.

and lastly….

20. The terrible two's can start at eighteen months. Allie has always been an early developing child, so she hit her tiny tyrant stage a little early. This too shall pass. Or so they say. Some days I'm all for shipping her off to a Russian orphanage until she's five. Lord love her.

Please take these with a grain of salt. (I'm serious about the changing pad thing.) Kids are great, except when they're not.

All in all Allie is not that bad.  She goes to bed at a decent hour, gets up at a decent hour, eats her supper, and plays until bedtime. She sings on the way to daycare, usually gets up in a good mood, and gives the best hugs. The older she gets the more and more I get to see that little personality of hers and it's like learning more and more about a really interesting person every day.  What can I say, I love her to pieces. 

Have a great Monday my lovelies! Hope I gave you a laugh and that you don't call the authorities on me!


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