Toddlerhood is both a wonderful and somewhat frustrating phase as a parent. I look at my sweet little two-year-old and see the sweet curls and baby face and I’m sad this is the last of the littles. Soon enough all my children will be in school and I’ll miss these little hands in mine. But toddlerhood is also crazy challenging at times, partly because toddlers can’t always express their needs and emotions.
I often find myself saying, “What do you want Syd?” Sydney still resorts to pulling me places and pointing, sometimes ordering me with one word commands to “Sit,” or “Come.” I feel like a dog being trained at times. Sometimes there’s also a big difference between what a toddler says and what they mean. I’m not going to pretend I know what all toddlers want. But if I had a toddler translator, here’s how it would work for Sydney.
“Couch” – To the untrained listener, perhaps you’d think it means she simply wants to sit on the couch. What Sydney actually means is, “I really want to try out that great trampoline over there,” and “You better watch me or I’m going to jump off and land on my head.”
“Carry Baby” – This might sound like a simple request to be carried. What Sydney really means is, “Please carry me for the next sixty seconds at which point I will wiggle like crazy till you put me down.”
“Walk” – This one should be easy. This is what she says when she wants me to stop carrying her and let her walk. Again this only means, “put me down so I can walk for sixty seconds,” then I’m going to insist you “carry baby” again.
Whenever we go anywhere I alternate between carrying her and letting her walk every minute so even a trip out to the car in the driveway takes twice as long as if she picked one or the other.
“Snack” – This means “thanks for this tasty treat which I’m going to spill or spit out of my mouth onto the floor in a minute.” I forgot how much food gets spilled and dropped in the toddler phase.
“Thank You” – Sometimes it’s as sweet as it sounds and sometimes it means “Oh that’s mine, thanks!” as she snatches the treat out of your hand so that you can’t be mad at her.
“Fire” – No, nothing is on fire when she says this. While most kids use the beginning part of pacifier “Paci,” to indicate they want their soother, Syd likes use the ending of the word. When she can’t find it, she sometimes runs around in a slight state of panic saying, “Fire! Fire!” That should be interesting, if someone should hear her in public (hopefully, not in a crowded place).
“Come” – This is what she says while pulling me off my chair at the dinner table or off the couch. It actually means, “You must dance and play with me right now!”
One day soon she’s going to be speaking in full sentences and there will be no question what she wants. I think a part of me will miss these days of toddler speak. This phase isn’t always easy.
I love the commercials for sour patch kids. That’s how I think of toddlers. First they’re sour, then they’re sweet. When you lean in for a kiss from your little one, there’s an equal chance you might get a kiss or a bite. I’ve come to the conclusion that my floor is just going to be covered in crumbs and spills till she’s at least four. This is why my vacuum stays out all the time.
There’s always a toy or spill to clean up, but there are so many moments of pure joy. Even though this age can be difficult to navigate, what “toddler” really means is, “I’m not a baby anymore.” And that, fellow moms, is the hardest translation to grasp.
What are your favorite translations from your toddler?
Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama is the author of “So, You’re Broke? 18 Drama-Free Steps To A Richer Life.” She can be found writing for The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not busy caring for her three adorable kiddos. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.