We all want our kids to learn how to do things for themselves, it's sort of part of the whole "parenting" deal, right? Learn how to walk, how to use the potty, how to get yourself dressed, how to drive a car, how to do your own laundry, these are all things us mama birds (and dada birds) need to teach before we nudge our sweet little birdies out of the nest. The thing you don't realize? Just how much patience you're gonna need when they start learning.
Case in point? Trying to leave my house with my two year old. We go to a dance class on Saturday mornings, which she loves. Every week I plan out our morning so we can get there on time, and guess how many times we've gotten there on time? Zero. That's right. NO TIMES. We are chronically at least ten minutes late. Why? She's gotta do stuff herself.
It starts with the outfit. No matter what cute dance outfit I have chosen (and believe me, I've got some C U T E outfits) she has to have final approval on it. Last week it was rainbow tights. The week before she changed her mind about the tutu as we were walking out the door and wanted to leave it on the front steps. The week before that she was cool with going in just a shirt and her diaper and a pair of frog slippers.
Next up let's try getting our teeth brushed before we leave. Just a little personal hygiene, no biggie, right? So now I will somehow find myself in the bathroom, monitoring this two year old as she brushes her teeth. Something that should take roughly three minutes or so, but when you have to let a toddler do it themselves it takes AN ETERNITY. Let's look at the toothbrush and talk about it, shall we? Mommy did you know Peppa is on this toothbrush? Look mommy! Look at Peppa! LOOK AT PEPPA! Okay now we can move on to choosing which toothpaste. This decision itself is fraught with micro-decisions: it needs to be smelled first, then the toothpaste gets on the nose, then the color needs to be judged, then the amount, then all of these things turn out unacceptable and the process must be started over again. Now the water is too cold. Start over again again.
All along I'm telling myself, "Don't rush her, let her do her thing, let her figure these things out herself..." but the problem is she also needs an audience for all of these decisions (and also someone there to make sure the toothpaste doesn't get decided right into an art project on the bathroom mirror). So the next thing I know I'm ten minutes behind schedule and she's still standing there without even one tooth being brushed.
The dreaded toddler time suck.
Even with downtime I can find the time suck that is Toddler taking over. Here is me scrolling through Netflix to find the show she wants:
Me: "This one?"
Me: "This one? You love this one!"
Toddler: *slightly more irritated* "NO"
Me: "Can you just tell me the name of the show?"
This goes on for the next, oh, twenty minutes or so until she settles on the first show we scrolled past.
But by far, the biggest Toddler Time Suck has to be the final steps in getting ready to leave the house, and usually the worst season is winter because of the extra garments needed. Here we are, all dressed and ready and freshly changed. The approximately 45 minutes we spent in the bathroom getting those teeny tiny teeth brushed is behind us, and we are READY TO GO.
The right jacket is located, I put it on her, turn my back for .04 seconds to locate toddler boots, I turn back to put on said boots aaaaaaaand the jacket is off. On the floor. This jacket simply won't do. Find a NEW jacket. Find that other one from last year that is a spring jacket that doesn't fit anymore and anyway it's 14 degrees out but NO I NO WANT THAT JACKET MOMMY.
Somehow an agreement is reached and a jacket is put on, let's do the boots now. Yay the boots are on, great! Let's walk out the door. Boot one comes off while trying to navigate steps. This loss of boot triggers a complete collapse and emotional breakdown. Why can't we just go without the boots?? NO BOOTS NOW that boot is DIRTY NOW! I now have no concept of what time it is or where we were even going in the first place, I just know I'm sweating now and I need to get this kid into the car and go.
It is at this point that the toddler decides nah, she doesn't even want to go. In fact, she wants to just chill here on the front steps and play with the welcome mat because WHY NOT?! But no, we've come this far, we are going to persevere and actually make it to wherever we were going in the first place, dammit. Now get into the carseat! For those of you that haven't attempted this yet, getting a grumpy reluctant toddler into a carseat is about as easy as putting pantyhose on an octopus on a caffeine drip.
You get one arm through the strap, go to the other arm, and the first arm is loose already. You ever so gently just go ahead and sorta kinda press them into that seat super lovingly and use all of your personal strength to get that clip clipped and secure while arms and legs are akimbo and boots are getting kicked off and hopefully have stayed within the car and god forbid this process needs to be done in a public parking lot because then you're trying to be all cool like "Hahaha you sure do hate this carseat now don't you? Now please try sitting upright again and be a good girl..."
But once you've gotten them into that seat, you're good! You're golden! You can now go wherever it is you were going, success! I mean, you could go wherever you were going, until they fall asleep 28 seconds into the car ride and you say screw it and find the nearest Starbucks drive thru and just sip your latte in peace, because toddlers. xoxo