Now that my third and youngest child is officially a toddler I can say that I have learned a lot about being a parent.
One of my areas of expertise has become Toddler Translating. It has become clear to me over the years that what you say to your toddler goes in one ear, gets turned into something else, and causes a toddler reaction. It’s a well known science rule: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. When it comes to your toddler every action produces roughly the same reaction that you’d get by hopping a howler monkey up on amphetamines and giving it a paint brush full of sticky stuff to spread over the house.
After much study, I present these translations to you in the hope that I’m not alone in facing a fearless, inventive, stubborn, reactive and energetic ball of dirt who finds twenty new ways to raise my heart rate before breakfast.
When mom says, “Hot!” a toddler hears: Stare at mom with big eyes. While she’s distracted by the cuteness, slowly stretch your hand out and check that she’s right and that thing is Hot! You don’t know unless you touch it.
When mom says, “No” a toddler hears: Nothing.
When mom says, “Get down!” a toddler hears: Time to hustle your little diaper butt over there and get up on that shelf pronto before mom gets over here. Go for it with all the frantic energy of a 1980s exercise video.
When mom says, “Uh-Oh” a toddler hears: A fun word to repeat over and over until mom has become so used to it they don’t hear it. At which point it’s now time to say “uh-oh” and mean it.
When mom says, “One, Two, Three” a toddler hears: Run and laugh. Laugh so hard you fall down and crash into walls.
When mom says, “I’m going to take a quick shower” a toddler hears: Now is the perfect time to fill your diaper, find something messy to smear on your face, run into the table for the tenth time today and pull out your best tantrum. All at once. Hurry! She’s getting away!
When mom says, “I think they’re asleep” a toddler hears: Rise and shine! Wakey wakey eggs and bakey.
When mom says, “I love you” a toddler hears: Their favorite sound in the world. Time to break out the big mushy grin and put all four teeth on display. When mom picks you up and squeezes you it’s the signal to snuggle your head in the curve of her neck while raising one fat little hand to pat her back, for the win.