When you become a parent, there’s just so much you don’t know.
And, in those first few years, you wander around deliriously tired, chase after little people who break all of your previously nice things and wonder how exactly every item of clothing you own is covered in spit up.
You suffer through tantrums, mind numbing shows on PBS (suck it, Calliou) and toddlers who refuse to eat anything unless they are wearing one sock and have the purple sippy cup. NOT the green sippy. Unless it’s an alternate Tuesday. Then the sock has to be on the OTHER foot and the sippy must be green. Toddlers are the equivalent of terrorists and you spend your days thinking the President has it easier with ISIS.
Let’s face it, most of us barely survive the age of three. And, you deserve a medal if you’ve lived with a three year old more than once because OMG. Amiright?
But, through it all, you push on, you muddle through, you persevere. Because it has to get easier. Someday. You catch glimpses of women in grocery stores with their hair done and make up on and think you might be that woman again someday. You sit in a board room and watch the guy with three older kids give a presentation without having to stutter and you think, man, that’ll be me. Someday.
You live for SOME. DAY.
And then, magically, you start to see signs that SOMEDAY is coming: they can tie their shoes. They can reach the bathroom faucet without screaming your name at the top of their lungs. They stop watching that bald headed, whiny menace and start watching insipid, sanitized Disney shows with teens who sing bad songs. Slowly, and ever so surely, they morph from
terrorists toddlers to little people who can be left alone in a room for ten minutes without sticking their fingers in an electrical socket.
You get to the summit of Toddler Mountain and the view is beautiful. Crystal clear skies and green valleys await as you pat yourself on the shoulder and think, “I made it. I survived. The toddler didn’t kill me.” You take in lungfuls of fresh air and swing your arms out singing songs they have sung for a thousand years while wearing a nun dress. It feels good to have made it to the top.
And here’s the part those experienced moms don’t tell you: your Toddler, one day, will become a Tween. And, in a surprise twist that you don’t see coming, you realize that Toddlers and Tweens are cut from the same cloth. To raise a Tween is to revert back to the Toddler years and NO ONE tells you this in the delivery room.
But, luckily for you, I am here to tell you the truth about Toddlers and Tweens. And we all know I’m all about the truth. Ahem.
How Tweens Are Just Like Toddlers:
1). Toddlers Have Baby Talk, Tweens Have Text Speak.
When you bring a baby home, you spend years trying to figure out just what they are trying to tell you. You use the sounds of their babbling, the decibels of their cries and their facial expressions as cues to let you know what they need. The same is true for a Tween, only this time, it’s eye rolling, foot stomping and the universal sign for annoyance: “Pfft!” And, not only are their facial expressions foreign, their texting language is, too. You need to know when to ROTFL or whether they are J/K and you never know when they will BRB. Tweens, IMHO, raise their hands and yell “FTW!” and they only want to hang with their IRL friends. And, FWIW, reading Fruit Loop #1’s texts makes me want to yell WTF.
You get my point.
2). Toddlers Have Dirty Diapers, Tweens Smell Bad.
Just when you think you’ve escaped dirty diapers, wipes and that god awful Diaper Genie, Tweens and their hormones descend on your house like an army of foul smelling soldiers. From their body odor, to their greasy hair to their bodily functions, Tween boys are just plain disgusting. Tween boys suddenly clog your toilets with man dumps and you go through toilet paper faster than the ladies’ room at a Katy Perry concert. Tween girls are no better: they get their periods and EW. Just EW. And be forewarned, don’t walk into any Tween’s bedroom unless you’ve taken a full breath of air and you hold your nose: it’s a scent that will make your eyes water and make you want to flee.
3). Toddlers and Tweens Grow Out Of Their Clothing. Daily.
When you bring your bundle of joy home, you have a closet filled with adorable onesies, dresses, micro tuxes and outfits that will make your ovaries explode when you see them on a two month old. But, because infants have this habit of growing like crazy, those cute onesies get worn exactly once. If you are lucky enough to remember you have the perfect Valentine’s Day onesie when you are wandering around so tired you could vomit, that is. Tweens, when they aren’t busy eating you out of house and home, grow out of their clothing nightly. Seriously. It’s like watching an episode of the Incredible Hulk every single morning. And, the day you realize your Tween can share your shoes makes you want to day drink. Because you know they’ll grow out of those, too and you’ll have to pay big people prices for shoes.
4). Toddlers and Tweens Need Timeouts.
The Toddler and Tween years are fraught with drama. You say “No” and both Tweens and Toddlers hear “I’m going to dig my heels in the floor and demand that I get my way and OMG I don’t care if I lose TV for a week, it’s worth fighting with Mom over this issue RIGHT NOW.” The only difference is that with a Toddler, you can physically pick them up and deposit them in their cribs, aka, Baby Jail, when they are misbehaving. And, though you can send a Tween to their room, a much more effective timeout strategy is the removal of not their favorite device but, rather, the CHARGER for said device. Put a Tween in Charger Jail and they will shape up real quick. Trust me.
5). Toddlers and Tweens Want Us To Love Them Through Their Tough Years.
Over the years, I’ve had conversations with friends about their Toddlers, Threenagers, and Tweens and, I’ve come to the conclusion that Toddlers and Tweens just need us to buckle up our seat belts and love them through the crazy, turbulent rides their years bring. They want to exercise their independence while making sure we will save them from themselves. Whether they are three or thirteen, it’s our job to make sure we set boundaries, remember not to backhand them when they roll their eyes and pretend we don’t hear the slamming doors of their bedrooms. We need to just keep handing out snacks, timeouts and patience and hang on, because SOMEDAY, it’ll get easier.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to keep climbing Mount Tween. I hear there’s a gorgeous clear view of The Teenager Mountain Range…..
Um, that Teenager Mountain Range of which you longingly speak actually has a big warning sign at the foot of the pass that goes something like this: WARNING! Dangerous path ahead. Watch for amplified tween odor, ItCostHowMuch?! Formal wear for yet another dance, Teenage driving lessons from which you may not both return, and college entrance exam anxieties (er, for Mom, not necessarily child) 😉
If you’re truly blessed, you get to experience twin tweens and a toddler all at the same time, with an incredibly strong-willed 7 year old thrown in the mix! Apparently God needed some more laughs because he threw us another surprise and come August we’ll have a newborn to add to the crazy. I have a feeling that me and the cashier at the wine store will be on a first name basis. Love your blog!
Oh boy, you hit the nail on the head! My oldest just turned 4. We are exhausted every single day. We wonder how others do it? If there is a secret to these crazy days filled with tantrum tears and too early wake up calls. Glad to know I am not alone.