A toddler is technically a child between the ages of one and three. The word is derived from "to toddle", and it is said to be an extremely active phase. But - just a phase? Who are we kidding?
Being a toddler is not just a phase, it is a religion with its own rules. As a mother of a two-and-a-half -year old, I've had a damn good insight into the religion of toddlerhood and I declare myself fully qualified to talk about it in public. So here goes your elementary education to the rules of this religion.
Rule 1. Ask embarrassing questions
In the religion of toddlerhood, asking gazillion awkward questions per hour is basically gospel. In fact, it is healthy and good for cognitive and social development. Here are some examples.
• 'Where is hair?' (Meeting a bald relative.)
• 'Dad, what you wear every day?' 'Combat uniform, sweetheart.' 'You no have new clothes?' (Concerned about dad's wardrobe.)
• 'Uncle, when will you go?' (Interacting with a dinner guest.)
• 'Aunty, what is this?' 'It's a necklace. You want it honey?' 'No. Why necklace no pretty? Ew.' (Being friendly with my friend.)
Rule 2. Eat what must not be eaten
Babies are fussy eaters. Then comes toddlerhood and, ta da! It gets weird. Yesterday, my toddler ate five flowers from my garden for lunch, snacked on pieces of a yellow crayon, and had two peas for dinner.
Rule 3: Do not eat what must be eaten
Toddlers don't eat what you wish they did, when you wish they did. Here are some excuses my toddler has made.
• My tummy is tired.
• My tongue hurts.
• Will eat in pink dress.
• This is ew.
Rule 4. Anoint the favoured few
Toddlers are extremely attached to their favourite things, people, places.
• 'GIVE MILK IN PRINCESS MUG!' - Hell hath no fury like a toddler who only wants her favourite mug.
• 'Oh, my favourite place.' Says to the mall, and claps.
• 'You are my favourite Dad!' Declares happily when her dad comes home after two months of work-related-travel.
Rule 5. Make music
My toddler has incredible song-writing talent. All through the last month she was singing her very own composition on top of her voice. The lyrics: 'Blue fish. Bluuueee fissshhhh. Blue blue fish fish' and so on. She's grown up since then. Her latest is 'Doll is bad. Bad bad BAAAD. She eats other dolls. Dolls DOLLS DOOOLLLS. Let's eat doll la la la.' (twirls and plays imaginary drums).
Rule 6. Focus for no more than a minute
Toddlers go from being incredibly focused to completely distracted in no time. 'WATER COLOUR!' Toddler announces. I'm all for nurturing creativity so I look for the colouring book and find it inside the microwave and the watercolours in the flower-pot outside. 'Watercolours are ready sweetheart!' I say. No reply. She is in other room, singing 'Five Little Monkeys' while jumping on the bed, wanting nothing to do with colours.
Rule 7. Repeat random things
My toddler repeats random things I say at totally inappropriate moments.
• 'What an idiot.' I say at the supermarket. 'Who?' Toddler asks. 'That woman buying fairness cream.' I say shaking my head. 'F*****g Idiot!' Toddler offers.
• 'Good morning princess!' I say when she wakes up. 'Good morning drama queen,' replies the toddler. Just a regular way to greet your mom. No biggie.
Rule 8. Quote/misquote parents at the wrong time
Misquoting mumma to the world, one disaster at a time.
• 'See sweetie, I got chocolates for you!' Husband's friend says to the toddler. 'Wow. Calories,' toddler says happily, and claps. Everyone in the room looks at me. I shrug.
• 'What colour is this?' Husband asks the toddler. 'White. You suck,' says toddler enthusiastically. 'Sorry, what?' Husband says to me, looking slightly shocked. 'White sucks on me is what I meant!' I clarify. Husband shakes his head. 'You suck!' Toddler yells with glee, jumps up and down chanting it.
Rule 9. State opinions loudly
• "Mumma, this lipstick YUCK." Makes a face, shakes her head.
• "Dad, this colour BAD." Points at her dad's combat uniform, and tries to water-colour it pink.
• "This house DIRTY." Yells the moment we enter neighbour's house.
Rule 10. Thou shalt steal puppies
Neighbour got a brand new, very expensive and insanely cute puppy. The toddler picks the puppy up and runs home. It takes half an hour of crying, tears and snot to return the puppy, after promising we'll get a new one. 'AND NEW DRAGON!' She says.
And because toddlerhood has no rules, here's the 11th one - just to make a point.
Rule 11. Be incredibly adorable
Summon overwhelming love in the world's most exhausted moms and dads.
• 'So? Will it be the red dress or the yellow one? What do you want little one?' The friendly sales man asks the toddler. 'I WANT MUMMA!' The toddler yells and hugs me tight. 'MUMMA SO PRETTY!' - kisses my cheeks nonstop. I glow with pride.
• 'I love you mumma," she says and kisses my nose. 'I love you too,' I say. 'I love you three,' she says proudly. 'Well, I love you four!' I say, laughing. 'I love you 8:30!' She says and kisses the tip of my nose. I melt into a big pile of love and hug her tight.
Don't believe anything they say, okay? Toddlerhood is the best. Have fun while it lasts.