Today I am using a writing prompt to help me with my entry. I’ve been suffering through a sinus headache all day, so my creative juices are a little muddled. Here is the prompt I am using: A parent is trying to explain something to their child, who just isn’t getting it. Thank you to Reedsy for the prompt.
Parenting is full of stress and peril. It is a serious miracle that parents of children do not expire from having stress heart attacks on a daily basis. Babies get into EVERYTHING.
How do you explain the concept of electrocution to a toddler? Like parents don’t have a million and twelve things to worry about already – are the eating enough, getting good sleep, are they sick, are they hitting their development markers? Now we have to worry about toddlers sucking on iPhone chargers?
It’s not like you can use the illustration of Ben Franklin, the key, and the kite — their brilliant little baby brains aren’t yet sophisticated to understand analogies. Or, complicated historical facts. My child is literally obsessed with cords. If there is a cord in your room, she will find it and pull on it and try to suck on it. But, she has a particular fondness for the iPhone charger cord. So what do you do? You say “NO!” and take the iPhone charger away.
My phone is constantly under 50%. Don’t judge me. I have a toddler.
As a parent, it feels like you spend half your time saying “NO!” and taking something away. NO, don’t suck on the iPhone charger! NO, don’t bash the dog on the head with your toy! NO, don’t put that dishwasher pod in in your mouth! NO, don’t eat Crayons! NO, NO, NO! I am longing for the day when I can start teaching consequences… that give answers to the WHY of the NO! …Like, you could be electrocuted; the dog is old and you could hurt him; the pod could poison you; Crayons will give you a tummy ache.
I am not there yet. She just looks at me with those big blue eyes and tilts her head back and WAILS when I say no… like I am the meanest Mommie in the world. Of course she goes running to Dada anytime she sees him… Dada is nice and plays iPad games with her and flies her around the house like an airplane. Mama is the one who exhaustedly says NO! and makes her eat food she doesn’t want to eat and go to bed when she really wants to stay up and watch Sesame Street.
I think she might understand consequences a little bit. I mean, she is exceptionally bright. She already knows 30 words (most 18 month olds have between 5 and 20.) And, she can complete mechanical tasks and follow basic directions like putting toys away, using a spoon to feed herself, and brushing her hair/teeth. It’s also possible that she understands NO! means “do not do that.” And, she tests those boundaries. Constantly.
For example, a few months ago, she was in her high chair eating goldfish crackers. She kept dropping them on the floor to feed the dog. I said to her, “Penelope, do not drop goldfish on the floor for Max.” She stopped for a moment and turned, picked up one single goldfish cracker, and held it out over the tray of her high chair, then dropped it on the floor, while staring me in the eyes.
Like I said, she’s exceptionally bright.
99% of the time I think she doesn’t understand the concept of “if you do this, then that will happen.” She’s still shocked when she bashes the dog (I can’t watch them 24/7) and he snarls at her. She’s mortally wounded and offended by those snarls. She was just trying to play with him, why did the snarl happen?
Honest to god, parenting is the hardest job I have ever had. (And, I used to be a professional fire-eater and a telemarketer… not at the same time, but you get my point.) Exhausting, full of fright… but, also full of joy. Peej is lucky we love her more than anything on the face of the planet. That a day full of “NO!” can be mitigated by a snuggle and a kiss and a smiley face saying “Mama.”
Still, I look forward to the day when my daughter understands that no means NO! And, can consistently follow directions. That will be a good day. Until then, hide all the iPhone chargers!
Back to the iPhone chargers. I know that babies explore everything with their mouths. Which terrifies me. Because the things I have pried out of her mouth are scary. Two days ago, a screw must have fallen out of the bottom of our couch, neither British Husband or I noticed this… but, Peej did. Luckily for me, I saw her pick something up and put it in her mouth. And, I dove towards her, fingers outreached to pry whatever was in her mouth out of her mouth, and discovered a sharp, pointy screw.
Terrifying. Especially considering that she swallowed a button battery in September and had to be rushed to the ER for a surgical procedure to remove the button battery from her stomach. That remote control had a child lock on it, that shouldn’t have happened. Why are things which are supposed to be child-proof are actually adult-proof, and children can get into them easily?
I end as I start, parenting is full of stress and terror. It’s a good thing these babies of ours are cute AF. =)