Sometimes I have a nervous chuckle by myself when I think about (my) life with a toddler. Yup, having a tot makes you look & feel like a lunatic at the best of times! A clever paediatrician, Dr Harvey Karp (who wrote The Happiest Toddler on the Block), said that if babies are angels, then toddlers are cavemen. “They spit and scratch when they are angry,” he says. “They pee in the living room. They pick their nose. They put food in their hair. They’ll suddenly shriek out of nowhere, even in a crowded place.”
The list goes on: they are oblivious to danger. They poo in the bath just as you think potty training has successfully been ticked off. They sing at the top of their voices in public places. They refuse to share. They bite (so hard that the little friend ends up with a tiny bleeding wound on his shoulder). You find yourself trying not to scar your child by apologising for his behaviour all the time, but at the same time you focus on being loving & reminding yourself that ‘this too shall pass’.
Dr Karp explains that toddlers live in the right side of the brain, which is the non-verbal, impulsive and emotional (whereas your left brain controls impulses).
“All of us shut off our left brain when we get upset,” he says. “We become less eloquent, less patient, less logical. We call that ‘going ape.’ Toddlers start out ‘ape,’ and when they get upset, they really go Jurassic on you. They turn into these primitive little cavemen.”
“The thing about toddlers is that they are uncivilized,” Dr Karp says. “Our job is to civilize them, to teach them to say please & thank you, don’t spit & scratch and don’t pee anywhere you want.“
Phew. At least there is an explanation. But this doesn’t make coping with or managing this behaviour any easier (for me at least). The craziest part is that I find myself also acting like a lune or a cave person when I’m in the company of said toddler.
Let me explain: on a day that I decide to wear a dress, I will somehow always end up jumping on the trampoline or at the top of a jungle gym. I used to have an organised handbag with a little pencil bag with stationery, lip colours in various shades & some business cards. Very professional. Organised. Easy to find. These days my pencil bag is no more – it was confiscated by our mini cave person. When I reach inside my handbag nowadays, I look like I’m digging for gold; & then only manage to extract a toy car, one shoe, half a toy cell phone & possibly mini under pants. Yes, you guessed it. No lip balm, no hand cream, no lip stick, no pen & no business card in sight.
Pre-motherhood, I would never have though that I’d be arguing with someone about why we cannot bake nuffins at 5:30am for the 4th day in a row. Lately, you might also find me running down the street after a little speedy Gonzales on his plastic motor bike (once again, in a dress). You are also likely to find us walking to ouma & oupa’s before sunrise on a weekend (when the entire neighbourhood is sleeping in).
Then there’s the strategising about my route though a grocery store like an expert navigator. Avoid the sweet and toy isles – like the plague! And does one ever get used to being lovingly fondled or having your dress lifted (by tiny hands) in public? Or as you try to pay, mini mister does some acrobatic tricks in the shopping trolley or starts to open some very gooey cleaning liquids.
Prevously, I did not have cracked heels, because you would not have found me walking around the house & garden with no shoes on!
Another classic scenario: kitchen has just received a good clean. Everything sparkles. Then, apparently, it is the perfect time to make a recipe (which means baking nuffins or mixing all possible herbs, spices & copious amounts of salt into a bowl before mixing it all up in water).
Then there are those times that you have to pretend to be a very serious & strict parent, whilst trying not to giggle around the corner because the temper tantrum that you are witnessing is just too cute for words!
#lifewithatoddler. So super cute, but so cave man-like. A crazy, but awesome experience. I just hope that I will still be able to act anti-cave mom like when this phase passes.
Ps. Google #lifewithatoddler fore some fun bits…