I have been parenting toddlers constantly for about a decade now. And I am still of sound mind and body. It’s kind of a minor miracle.
There’s a lot I’ve learned in interacting with the 2-4 year-old crowd that has made my life easier and less stressful than it used to be. There were hard lines I used to draw with my first toddler that now seem so much less important with my sixth. Schedules have had to become more flexible, the list of fun/educational/goofy songs I have memorized has increased exponentially. I have learned to let go of some things and hold fast to others. And through it all, there is one phrase that has become my mantra:
I don’t argue with toddlers.
I have seen way too many adults get trapped in this kind of frustrating interaction with their toddlers:
Child: Mommy, that horse green!
Mom: The horse we saw yesterday? No, Sweetie. That horse was white. Remember?
Child: It GREEN. That horse GREEN!
Mom: NO. IT. WAS. WHITE. Horses can’t be green so it wasn’t green!
And then much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensues.
I’m just over it. I do not have to be the fact police for my toddler. And frustratingly enough, there are many times when I’ve picked a fight with a toddler only to realize I didn’t understand them clearly and they WERE right in the first place (“Oh! You mean his LEGS were green from the wet grass. . . “). That is a humbling experience I have come to dread. So I just don’t argue with toddlers. I’ve developed lots of go-to phrases to help me avoid arguments:
“A green horse? That would be funny!”
“I didn’t see a green horse! Did you see one? The one I saw was white.”
“Have you seen a green horse before or was this your first one?”
“You saw a green one? I want to see a purple one!”
I’m just not going to waste my breath trying to “win” an argument with someone who has nothing better to do today than start arguments about nonsense. When I do that, I’ve just dropped down to the toddler level and that makes me feel like a crazy person. My frustration will ultimately do more damage to our relationship than it’s worth to try and win that argument.