I regularly date my children, which is to say I go out socially with them in public with the sole intent of spending time with them. The dating I refer to is not to be confused with courting, charming or wooing — the dating I refer to is lady dating. Girl stuffs. Shopping. Treats with whipped cream. Boy talk. (Now, Cody dates his girls too, but they involve far less shopping and boy talk.) So let’s say you wanted to take Vivi out, socially. You thought it might be fun to hang out with a toddler for the day, and I don’t blame you! Having a toddler around can be loads of fun, assuming you know the rules.
Every toddler will be set off by different things, the key is to knowing what those different things are so you can either avoid or placate them before they go DEFCON 1 right before your very eyes in the checkout aisle at Target. While I can’t promise you that knowing the following rules for dating Vivi will prevent all meltdowns, I can at least say, “I told you so,” in complete confidence when and if you break one of the rules and send Vivi into toddler fits of rage. Inspired by this dad’s tips for dating his 3-year-old I recently read on Huffington Post, I’ve compiled my own list of rules for dating my toddler.
Blacklisted Words 1 of 10
Cookie, cheese, swimming, park, bye bye, dinosaurs and walrus are all words you'd best not utter in Vivi's presence unless you are FULLY prepared to follow through with each item listed.
Hands off the Bunny 2 of 10
Bunny is not a joke. Bunny is not a toy. Bunny is not something to tease and torture Vivi with by balling him up and launching him across the room. You may touch bunny ONLY when retrieving bunny for Vivi or performing a task for bunny given to you by Vivi.
If bunny gets lost on your watch? Be prepared to see anger and sadness expressed in ways barely comprehensible by the human mind.
Reading Rules 3 of 10
When reading to Vivi you don't just read, you perform. There must be voices, inflection, accents, expression and feeling behind your words. If what you're reading can be sung, you'd best start singing.
Try to read to her in monotone and she will dismiss you and demand a replacement.
Feeding Time 4 of 10
She won't always be hungry, but she will constantly test your preparation when it comes to snacks and you'd best be prepared when the snacks screams start coming. Even if she isn't actually hungry, she will verbally berate you for your lack of preparedness when it comes to finger foods. It's only when you are ill prepared that she will truly attack.
She also takes forever to eat, keep her focused and you may finish breakfast before lunchtime.
Playgrounds 5 of 10
Pass by playgrounds and parks at your own risk, girl can spot them from a 100 yards away and will demand some solid "whee!" time when anywhere near a swing or slide.
Fromage 6 of 10
There are two types of cheese in Vivi's world, white cheese and orange cheese. You'd best get her the kind she asked for. (If it helps, she generally prefers orange.)
Live the Lies 7 of 10
Water down juice if she ever gets it, but never let her know you do.
She believes raisins are fruit snacks, keep it up.
You can't go to the museum today because the dinosaurs are sleeping.
Same for the zoo, sleeping walruses.
She also believes the Chick-Fil-A playground is only for big kids, ruin this for us and we'll ruin you.
Never Let Her Futz 8 of 10
We've worked long and hard on our routines in this house, and Vivi has been testing the limits lately. It's four books at bedtime, then songs, then bed. If she tries to get five books out of you or an extra trip to the potty even though she just went, an extra drink of water when she already has one or needs to find one more stuffy — you my friend are getting worked over and fits are sure to follow if you're not firm. (Plus you'd undo all our hard work, in which case you would no longer be our friend.)
Don’t Reason 9 of 10
Vivi's two, and if there's two things you can't reason with it's crazy and two-year-olds. Forget trying to explain to her that you're almost where you need to be when she loses her mind because her shoe falls off or trying to reason with her that, "No, toddlers cannot exist on ice alone."
What you need to learn are distraction techniques. Try them all until something sticks.
(Lately asking her what the fox says nips 80% of meltdowns.)
Have a Thick Skin 10 of 10
Sure, she likes you now. You're a shiny new toy to her, she thinks she'll have you handing her cookies and unicorns within the hour — just don't take it personally when she chooses someone new to be her favorite. She'll circle back eventually.
But right now? She really wants nothing to do with you.
Find more of Casey’s writing on her blog moosh in indy or her Babble Voices site Shutterlovely. She’s also available on twitter, facebook, flickr and Instagram. If you can’t find her any of those places? Check the couch, she’s probably taking a nap.
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