7 Times Your Toddler Will Take Your Instructions Way Too Literally

Confession: I lost my mind the first few times my child actually responded to a question I asked. On one particularly exciting evening, as my partner cooked dinner, I asked our little, “Where’s your tummy?” and he gleefully pointed toward his belly button. It's not as if he hadn't been communicating with me for a while already, but it was one of the first times my toddler literally followed instructions.

Still, you would have thought he spoke in complete sentences and gave me an anatomically correct explanation based on my excitement. I jumped up and down, squealing like some kind of fangirl, then immediately tried to get him to repeat the same response for his grandparents via video chat (to no avail, he doesn’t perform on demand, you guys. He’s got standards and, honestly, I respect them.). Even now, months later, while he now has many more parts of anatomy in his repertoire, he picks and chooses when and how he’s going to respond to our requests to see his nose, toes, and ears. Getting him to show off his tummy is still my favorite though, and he knows it and lords it over me.

Still, there are a handful of requests I can make that I can assume he will take very literally, including but not limited to:

When You Give Them A Spoon For One Part Of Their Meal…

…and they end using it for every other part of their meal, including the chicken nuggets. On the one hand, you're the most excited that your kid is using an utensil at all. On the other hand, you're now aware that you're going to need to try and teach your child how to use the right utensil. Baby steps.

When You Show Your Kid How to Do Anything By First Doing It Yourself, But You Do It Wrong

A few weeks ago, my son’s grandparents brought over a new toy cash register with some oversized, colorful plastic coins. As we were exploring the new toy with him, one of the adults in the room (I won’t say who, cough) tried to put one of the coins in the wrong slot. For the rest of the afternoon, despite our efforts to show him how it was supposed to work, my little one kept insisting to do it his way, trying to put a toy coin in a too-small slot mom had attempted to use. The experience has taught me that if I’m going to model behavior for him, I better be really, really sure it’s the correct behavior.

When It’s Time To Clean Up

You guys, my kid loves to clean. If given the opportunity, he will sweep, rake, wipe things with a washcloth, and run a damp paper towel over his own high chair. I'm trying to figure out how to monetize it and have yet to come to any conclusions, so if you think of anything, give me a holler.

Just kidding!

Sort of.

When You Ask Him To Wave Bye-Bye

Does anyone else’s toddler continue waving after the lucky object of their affection is out the door, in their car, backed out of the driveway, and turning the corner at the end of the block? No? Just me? OK.

When You Mention That It’s Almost Dinner Time. Almost.

I vowed never to be a parent that spells words out so my son doesn't know what we're talking about. Not that I mind when other people do it, of course. I think it's just the nerdy English major in me that likes to come up with words and phrases like “evening sustenance” and "mid-day nutrition” instead of simply spelling. That said, it’s usually a fruitless effort because he can pretty much read our minds anytime there’s even potential for food.

When You Want To Hold Hands

I can barely write this one because it’s so awesome I’m afraid I'm going to jinx it. Lately, our little has started doing this cute thing that, when one parent is reading to him on the couch, he’ll reach over and take the hand of the other parent (assuming we're nearby). It creates this little family snuggle trifecta that turns me into a soggy puddle on the carpet, and makes me want to hand his dad every book in the house so we can keep it going.

When You Ask Them If They Need To Use The Potty

What you're hoping for, of course, is an enthusiastic "yes" followed by a walk to the bathroom so they can sit down on their mini-toilet you've been attempting to train them to use for months. What ends up happening, of course, is that you get that "yes," followed by them actually using the potty. Right there. Wherever they are (usually the living room). I mean, you can't be mad. You did ask, and they did answer. Sigh.