Five Things My Toddler Has Taught Me

I consider myself to be a pretty intelligent woman. I received a great education. I’ve worked as an intern in various fields, a legal assistant, an accountant, even a teacher. I read books–sometimes chick lit but often times to learn new things or how to improve myself. Others come to me for advice, sometimes on the superficial stuff like should they buy the shoes in black or red, but mostly for the serious stuff because I’m good at it. And I listen. And I never judge!

I thought I knew a lot about life. I’m a woman and now a mom, so of course I know everything. I freaking used to be a teacher and imparted my vast knowledge on groups of lucky 11, 12, and 13 year olds. I could major in bullshit when appropriate. I play the game better than most. I will kill you with kindness. I know how to get my way or what I want. Give me a problem and I will solve it for you. I tell it like it is. I’m clearly a pro when it comes to all of these very important life skills.

Then I met my three-year old son and realized, WOW, I really do have a lot more to learn about life. And I could really use some brushing up on these many life skills I thought I had mastered. Here are five of them based on what my little one has taught me since he graced us with his presence three and a half years ago.

1. Patience
I am not a patient woman. I hate waiting and I’m never late. Then I had a baby and he could give zero fucks about any of that. If we are running late to school or a party or a playdate or anything at all that requires leaving the house, it is at that moment my son decides he needs to go potty, can’t find his left shoe that I swear I had already put on his foot, doesn’t want the snack I’m holding in my hand that he just asked for, and needs to bring a toy in the car but doesn’t know what toy he would like to bring, so he takes his sweet ass time picking one out. And as we finally get out the door and he walks down the steps towards the car, he then change directions and runs away from the car, forcing me to chase after him yelling like a mad woman, “WE HAVE TO GO. STOP RUNNING. WE ARE SO LATE. MOMMY DOESN’T RUN. WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS! I DON’T WANT TO WALK YOU IN TO SCHOOL. DROP OFF IS MY RIGHT!” So now I am a patient woman because what choice do I have. Or at least I try to be. Or pretend to be. But seriously, having a son has really improved my patience, something, if you ask my own mother, I was not born with.

2. The Art of Manipulation
I’m not a strict mom but I’m not an easy one either. I believe in structure, rules, schedules, and a set bed time. I like to pick my battles. I try to be consistent. I am not perfect by any means. I don’t feel guilty about using the TV and iPad when I need to (or more than I need to). I walk away from my child when he melts down. I tell him he can come join me when he gets it together and we can move on. I don’t respond to yelling and angry groans. I respond to words. But those three little words from my son and I turn into a mush. I’m sure you know them. All it takes is an “I love you mommy” and I momentarily forget that I am the adult in charge of teaching my son to be a good human who shares, keeps his hands to himself, and respects other people’s personal space. And he absolutely knows it. And he’s expanded his library of phrases to: “You look pretty mommy.” “Mommy come sit next to me.” Mommy, we’re best friends.” “One more kiss mommy. Okay, now another hug mommy.” He knows just how to get what he wants from his mommy. The eyes, the pout, and those words he so masterfully uses. He is a master manipulator and I could learn a few things from him like before I order those four pairs of shoes online – “I love you husband. You look hot husband. One more kiss husband.” I know I can skip the best friend line and probably need to replace one more kiss with one more___________________ and then another ___________________ . I’ll let you fill in the blanks!

3. The Power of Negotiation
Being the mom of a three-and-a-half-year old boy makes me extremely qualified to negotiate corporate mergers, major real estate deals, and peace in the Middle East. Well, maybe not that last one, but you get what I’m saying. If you don’t, just come over to my house and hang out with my little one for a few hours. Try to get him to finish all that broccoli on his dinner plate. Try convincing him that Annie’s cookie bunnies are not a breakfast food. See if you can get him to walk away from the trucks, airplanes, and legos to go potty, take a bath, and put his pajamas on for bed, sans any type of meltdown, tantrum, or screaming fit. Then there is the hardest negotiation of all–the playdate battle. If you can get my son to take turns, share the toy he didn’t even want five minutes ago, but does now because the other little boy showed an interest in it, and make all parties happy, you can negotiate just about anything too! There will be times when my son out-negotiates you. For example, tell him you are only reading him one book before bedtime only to find yourself cursing the pages of the third book you just started for him. When you give him two more minutes to play, listen to him tell you “NO, he would like five more minutes please.” And how can you say no when he practices the good manners you have pleaded with him to use when he asks for something he wants. Use your words, speak so others can hear you, know your audience, always have good manners, and inform those around you what you want. Clearly I have learned from the best!

4. How To Let Things Go
Have you ever noticed how quickly little kids let things go? I want to let things go as quickly as my son. It seems so easy for him. One minute he is face down, flailing his arms and legs, screaming that he doesn’t want to eat dinner because he is still playing. Mommy is mean because she is making him eat the macaroni and cheese he asked for and interrupting his very serious playtime at the train table. I know buddy. Life is so unfair. So I walk away leaving him to his tantrum, and three minutes later, he yells he is ready to eat and I find him climbing into his chair at the table. Mommy is the best. He loves mommy. He loves his mac and cheese. That time three minutes ago when mommy told him play time was over never happened. He never mentions it. He has forgotten. He is happy and has moved on to the next thing. He has let it go. And he won’t hold a grudge. He probably won’t even remember it after dinner. Damn, he ‘s so good at letting it go! I vow to try this every time my husband forgets to take the trash out, bring home something from the office I asked fifty times for, or when he claims he told me about something very important that he clearly never actually told me about.

5. Dieting Tips
I left out one thing above that I’m not so good at. Dieting. I’ve tried them all. I’ve lost and gained too many pounds to count. I’m still losing the baby weight. My baby just happens to be almost 4. Vegetables don’t excite me. I love pasta and chocolate chip cookies. And I suck at moderation. Give me one cookie, and I will want five more. Serve me the appropriate serving size of pasta and I will ask you if there is extra left. Obviously I have no clue as to why I just can’t shed this extra weight. I know he’s three, but my little one is such a peanut, and all he does is carb load. I might just be a little jealous. Broccoli is always a fight with him. Spinach? He doesn’t like spinach. If it’s green, he’s not eating it unless there is something in it for him, like a cookie or scoop of ice cream after his meal. And when I tell him to take three more bites of broccoli or any vegetable, he takes three bites, and spits them out. I guess I wasn’t specific enough. I didn’t say take three bites, chew, and swallow them. And then he moves on to whatever carb is on his plate, usually pasta. He take four bites and says he is all done. Since he barely ate and didn’t eat those vegetables, there will be no cookie or ice cream, which is met with screams and more cries. And here I am, his crazy mommy thinking to myself, “I bet if took bites of food and spit them out, ate only four bites of carbs at meals, and was denied dessert no matter how much I protested, I would be a skinny asshole too!”

What valuable life lessons and skills have you learned from your kids?

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