Everything I Need to Know I Learned When My Kids Were Toddlers

Books with titles like All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten make me suspicious. It’s the all-inclusiveness of the title that turns me off. My husband would say I am being too literal.

In fact, going online to confirm that I had remembered the wording correctly (I hadn’t), I see it is a book of essays and the title is taken from the title of the first essay. Not, after all, a book dedicated to the lessons learned in kindergarten. I may be warming to it.

But I digress.

Despite my title for this post, I don’t think I learned everything from being the mother to toddlers, but I am struck by how applicable those life lessons have proven.

cute ANS kidIn one of my jobs I teach a parent/tot class where we take weekly hikes through a beautiful nature sanctuary. I know, I know, it’s a hard life!

At back-to-school-night when I introduce myself I say I am the mother of two teenage boys and teenagers are a lot like toddlers, only not as cute and you can’t pick them up and move them around. That usually gets a laugh. But those parents just need to wait and see; there really are striking similarities. I find sometimes it helps to remember what he looked like as an adorable toddler when my taller-than-I-am son engages in toddler-like behavior.

For example, travelling: Just as with toddlers, when travelling with teenagers it is a good idea to have snacks and drinks stashed in your bag. No one wants to be around a melting down teenager when a well-timed granola bar could’ve averted the disaster!

Naps? Yep. On our recent family vacation we built in time for naps or downtime. The advantage with teenagers is that parents can go exploring while those kid batteries are being recharged.

candy corn socksDon’t even get me started on clothes. You think your toddler leaves the house in some outlandish outfits? Wait to see the what your teenager cooks up. My husband has drawn the line and refuses to go out with them if they are sporting colorful socks with slide sandals.

What, you may ask, does this have to do with Pettigrew?

As I’ve discussed before [Dog Dictionary: A concise dictionary of canine-to-English and English-to-canine language], Pettigrew likes to see my picking up the leash as an opportunity to play catch-me-if-you-can. Chasing him around is a recipe for disaster. He’s faster and wilier than I am.

Lately I have adopted the ignoring strategy. You know, when the kids were little and it was time to leave the park, but they refused, the most expedient solution was to walk away, knowing they would follow.

Sometimes I walk out the back door, leash in hand, and find Pettigrew behind me, ready to go. But even more reliably, I hook the leash over the doorknob and get busy with something else.

Pettigrew usually walks past me a few times to check, am I really not playing? before he gets worried that a walk is no longer happening. Then he will seek me out and sit obediently while I attach his leash!

And, like teenagers and toddlers, when something is wrong with Pettigrew it pays to do a quick check of the essentials: sleep, food, water, love. Addressing a deficit in any of these categories can usually set everyone to rights.

2 thoughts on “Everything I Need to Know I Learned When My Kids Were Toddlers

  1. That is totally brilliant (to loop the leash over the door knob)! And you’re right – great insight to apply the lessons from raising toddlers to teenagers and dogs. Thanks for those helpful tips!

    Liked by 1 person

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