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Toddler Life Lessons

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As irrational, emotional, and bipolar-esque as they are, kids are twice as loving and affectionate. It’s just the way toddlers are built: if they feel it, they share it. I think we could all learn a thing or two from being emotionally spontaneous like them, minus the public tantrums at Target. I almost always regret tossing myself down in the middle of the clearance section, crossing my arms over my chest, and screaming “NO NO NO!” when my husband announces it is time to leave.

Anyway, I think our lives would be better, fuller if we took a page out of the Toddler Book of Emotions. Here is how I plan to embrace the things I’ve learned from my children:

1. From now on, when my husband comes home from work, I’m going to run to him, throw my arms around his legs, and hold on for dear life so he knows just how much I’ve missed him. He may get mixed signals from me, but I’m only in it for the hug.

2. If I’m sad, I won’t be afraid to show it. Bottom lip pout or full-blown ugly cry, I won’t apologize for my tears.

3. Excitement will come easily. A hot cup of coffee=shaking with anticipation. A trip to the park may very well result in a short-circuit. I love me some swings.

4. Something soft? I’m all over it.

5. A little bit of nudity never hurt anyone. Walking around the backyard sans pants on a hot summer’s afternoon? Sign me up.

6. There will be days where I eat my weight in chocolate, despite friendly warnings, and, yes, my belly will hurt. And then someone will need to please rub my back and tickle my face until I fall into a cocoa-induced coma.

7. My iPhone is my lovey. I must have it on my person at all times to feel secure. If you take it, I will scream.

8. I will never underestimate how a round of Hide-and-Seek can lift my spirits.

9. Real talk: Finding Nemo is horrifying. I don’t care what Disney says or if I’ve offended Pixar. When Nemo’s mom… ‘sob’ When she tries to…’sob’. I’m sorry, I can’t. I just can’t.

10. Fluffy clouds floating in the sky, Fourth of July fireworks, a trip to the zoo, the discovery of a flushing toilet. These are moments that I will savor, for it won’t be long until they blend in with the landscape of life.

11. Repetition is key. If I keep on keepin’ on, I will eventually find success, or another way of accomplishing the same task.

12. I’m entitled to change my mind with zero prior notice. Roll with it.

13. There are few things a good snuggle can’t cure.

14. Laughing uncontrollably about nothing is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. If I pee my pants, so be it.

15. My fears, however outwardly trivial, are important and no one should make me feel like less of a person for admitting them.

16. If you tell me no, you better have a good reason. It’s no secret that I don’t like the word, but I’ve been working on accepting it without a battle. It’s not going well, so just prepare for the worst.

17. We all make mistakes. We won’t want to own up to some of them, so if they’re not a big deal, let’s not call each other out.

18. Naps are necessary. Period.

19. Chances are good that I will suddenly reach out and pet you. It’s how I show affection, do not be frightened. Unless you’re a stranger. Then you should slowly back away, avoiding eye contact.

20. I will say “I love you” more often. It may be directed at a person or a Popsicle, but I will say it.

And there you have it. I’m hoping that by enacting these Toddler Lessons effectively immediately, I’ll be so in touch with my emotions that by the time I hit menopause, I will totally bypass the kind of crazy my mom put me and my brother through. I’m still having nightmares…

Stephanie Jankowski is the wife of one, mom of two, and English teacher of many. Her blog, When Crazy Meets Exhaustion, provides an outlet for adult conversation.

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