My babies aren't really babies anymore. My daughter is 10, long past those years and approaching puberty (fun), and the youngest is (barely) 5 and just stepping out of his toddler role. I anticipated much of what I thought the toddler period would entail from what people told me, but there are some things I'm glad I didn't know about toddlers beforehand because, honestly, toddlers are way more complicated than I imagined.
When my daughter approached toddlerhood, I thought I had a handle on it. With warnings from others about what their toddlers did, I prepared in ways I didn't necessarily need to. We hear about "the terrible twos" as if it's some kind of plague, but I found it isn't one consistent stream of awful tantrums. Instead, it's sporadic at best, and I was in no way prepared for the complexity (and the emotional toll it took), like I thought I was. In other words, and truthfully, it isn't all bad.
When I had my son, I based what his toddlers years might be like from my experience with his sister. The thing is, though, they've been wildly different beings from birth, so it's essentially like starting all over again. You never know what to expect, whether you have one kid or you're well on your way to lucky number five, like Tori Spelling. With that, here are some things I was blissfully, ignorantly happy not knowing about what toddlerhood might be like. (For the record, having toddlers was actually pretty great and I'm kind of sad for my son to be past it now.)
They'll Only Want Boxes The Toy Came In
OK, so I heard this one in passing but chose to ignore it because what kid wouldn't want toys? Apparently the boxes, for whatever reason, are more entertaining and a hell of a lot cheaper.
No Amount Of Cleaning Will Keep You From Stepping On A Toy
With my daughter, it was Polly Pocket heads. With my son, it's Legos. Doesn't matter how thoroughly I clean, I step on something every damn day.
They Talk A Lot
I once longed for those first words to come creeping out of my children's mouths. Then, all of a sudden, I couldn't get them to take a breath between sentences. No one warned me, you guys.
I heard about the affinity for saying "no" or asking "why?" but not the incessant, nonstop, blabbing. I don't know about you, but my brain tires out around 8 p.m. so if they're still up and talking, I can't guarantee how much I hear.
Their Curiosity Can Be Frustrating
It's cute at first. All the questions about everything every invented. Until, you know, it's not. Like, I don't know how many marbles can fit into a dump truck or how babies are made. I mean I do, but can we not just yet?
They Already Know How To Work You
I'd heard a bit about how conniving these little cuties can be, but never did I expect to give in as much as I did. I thought, "Nah, I'm way smarter and won't fall for it." Turns out, my kids as toddlers were really good at being cute and promising to do chores for whatever they desired, and while I didn't give them everything, I didn't say no all the time either. I'm only human.
You Can't Pinpoint Food Preferences...
Yes, the term "picky eater" exists and I swore my kids wouldn't be that way. I spent a lot of time planning meals, cooking healthy things for their growing bodies, only to learn that what they love one week, they hate the next. It's baffling.
...Or Their Moods
Remember when your toddler was really happy about that book a few minutes ago? Yeah, it'll pass. In mere seconds, there's going to a meltdown for no apparent reason and the best part? He, or she, will go right back to the happy mood only after you're ripping your hair out. It's different than "terrible twos" or tantrums. It's diabolical.
Space And Ownership Are Relative
There's no personal space with these kids and I mean that in a literal sense. My son, bless his heart, will speak directly into my face. Also, whatever I'm looking at or interested in will be his now. Magazine, book, phone? Yeah, it's like he owns them.
It Pleases Them To Ruffle Feathers
The worst thing I can do, I've learned, is show them they're winning. If I'm obviously bothered or worked up, they gain like a million new lives. It makes their day when I lose my cool. Makes their damn day.
They're Masters Of Their Craft
I knew toddlers were smart but I'm glad I didn't know just how smart. Not only do they know what they're doing from the time they can crawl, but they also know that you know what they're doing. Thus, the games begin (and try as you might, they will win).
They Don't Care About Your Privacy...
If you think you're going to the bathroom alone, you're wrong. If you lock the door, your toddler will spend the whole time trying to look through that little crack. Or, in my daughter's case, they'll learn how to pick the lock.
...Or That Of Others
In public restrooms, it'll take all your strength to hold them back from peering up into the next stall. My sneaky son once crawled into the stall next to us while another lady was in there. Sorry?
They Can Seek Out Trouble In A Second
Once I say "don't touch" they're inevitably going to touch whatever is sure to hurt them (or others, or the thing they're trying to touch). There's like an alert in their brain that tells them to touch all the things, all the time. If it looks too high, they'll find a way. They always do.
You'll Talk About Bathroom Habits More Than Anything Else
Never in my life did I think I'd be so obsessed with how often my kids go to the bathroom. As your toddler starts learning how to go in an actual toilet, you;ll start realizing how constant "bathroom" becomes a topic of conversation. "Do you have to go? Did you go? What did it look like? Did you wipe? Do you need me to wipe?" I seriously don't even know what other people talk about, if not this.
They Will Love You Unconditionally (Seriously)
Another cheat here, because I sort of knew about this. Other mothers threw the phrase around, promising it's a love like no other and, honestly, I was skeptical. I loved my kids as babies, sure, but I really didn't come to understand the power of unconditional love until they were toddlers. I'm imperfect and I've made plenty of mistakes, but they've never hesitated to accept an apology or remind me how loved I am, no matter what's happened. The whole world could crumble around me but if my toddlers had embraced me in a warm hug, I wouldn't have noticed.
The best thing about my kids as toddlers — the thing I'm glad I didn't know most is — in all of the above, they've helped me evolve into the woman, and mother, they always knew I could be. For that, I'm infinitely grateful.