Toddlers aren’t human.
That’s the first little revelation that you have to get your head around anytime you are thinking about shoving the kid in the car and dragging him or her anywhere.
You can deny that of course, as is your right, but you’d be dead wrong.
Listen, I love my little fella Henry even more than I love red wine and pizza (and believe me, I adore those things unnaturally), but the truth of the matter is that “Hank,” as I like to call him, is a good kid with a heart of gold who also just so happens to be possessed by the ghost of the legendary hell-raising Old West gunfighter, Billy the Kid.
Or maybe it’s Jesse James.
The name isn’t important. What IS important is me acknowledging the possibility that every time I take good ol’ Hank down to the local Walmart or the grocery store or to a park or wherever, I might just be treated to an outing with a madman train robber instead!
Okay, maybe that’s a stretch. But it isn’t a long one. Henry, like a lot of toddlers his age, is fully battered and fried in what the experts and the greenhorns alike like to call The Terrible Twos. Anyone who has ever heard that term and then genuinely dealt with it knows that a select few children between the ages of 2 and 4 manage to maintain a high level of respectable behavior and steady manners during those special years.
Just like they also know that that the other 99% of toddlers lose their damn minds!
So, knowing all of this, I decided that it might be of some help to future generations of fresh and innocent parents if I took it upon my battle-scarred self to warn them that there are indeed some places that they might just want to avoid ever taking a toddler. Or, as is often the case, if you simply must let the baby grizzly bear that you helped spawn tag along with you, at least be forewarned and vigilant.
Well because no matter how much we try to be the greatest parent who ever lived, we will still be blindsided by our toddlers, time after time, again and again, as the wires and connections in their developing minds throw off sparks and shocks. They’re developing their own individual personalities and styles in a yet another temper tantrum of hot, hissing cerebral insanity.
Because that’s just who toddlers are.
Because they are sweet, inventive kids that will also gladly eat a stranger’s food right off of their dish.
Because they will rip wads of pages out of $75 Barnes & Noble coffee table books with sinister delight.
And because toddlers are, whether you like it or not, reincarnated western outlaws whose sole purpose during those Terrible Two Years is to burn down the village, steal your money, and give you, the sheriff, an epic heart attack first thing after breakfast.
To Church 1 of 14
Church, mosque, temple, whatever you choose to attend, you might want to think long and hard before you take a toddler to worship with you. Unless, of course, you think people enjoy watching a bored-to-death kid praise the Lord by loudly banging his forehead against the pew in front of you for a solid hour!
Image Credit: Beaverton Historical Society
To Fancy Restaurants 2 of 14
Look, toddlers seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to pretentious stuffiness, and they rebel against it with all they've got down in their misfit souls. So, if you're taking them out to eat, skip the nice joints in favor of the places that don't mind miniature maniacs trying to steal the flair off the waitress's suspenders.
Image Credit: David Mesaaz
On Chair Lifts 3 of 14
At the ski slopes, at the beach, at the amusement park, wherever... just don't put yourself through that kind of barbaric torture.
Image Credit: Leon G.
The Grocery Store 4 of 14
I know it is completely unreasonable for any parent to ever even imagine food shopping without their toddlers coming along a lot of the time. But we can all dream, can't we?
Image Credit: chrocodiles-classical
A Bookstore 5 of 14
Kids love bookstores and that's a good thing, since reading is maybe the most important thing any child will ever learn. But beware the toddler turned loose in the halls of expensive books. They want to tear through big beautiful pages like a wild squirrel building a nest. It doesn't matter to them that the thing in their hands might cost almost a hundred bucks. So stay vigilant, bibliophiles!
Image Credit: Joseph Lee Novak
Any Place with Crayons 6 of 14
Everyone wants their kids to love art and to be creative and all of that, but watch out for places with crayons. Yes, the intentions are always good, to give children a chance to occupy themselves with something useful and fun. Yet, if you think that your little outlaw isn't capable of taking a crayon to a wall and splattering some serious graffiti around in a matter of seconds, you are very wrong, my friend. VERY. WRONG.
Image Credit: laffy4k
Places with Other Children’s Toys 7 of 14
Breaking toys is part of being a toddler, we all know that. Still, there is something awkward and weird about taking your kids over to your friend's house for a play date and then seeing their kids crying because your little monster just busted a favorite toy in half with a swift attack of concrete slamming and drop-kicking. Best to just keep your kids isolated from other people's toys until they are between the ages of 16 and 17, I think.
Image Credit: Mike Cogh
The Car Wash 8 of 14
Most two and three-year-olds either enjoy the car wash. Or they don't. There isn't much middle ground when it comes to that. Sadly, the only way to find out is to drag them though it once. But believe me, if your kid hates it that one time, and cries and shakes despite your reassurance that it's just a giant friendly octopus climbing all over your ride, then forget about taking them there again until they're in college. Otherwise you could very well get bitten. Seriously.
Image Credit: Bill Selak
The Liquor Store 9 of 14
If you have toddlers and still manage to resist the urgency to drink your weight in wine every evening after a day of kid wrangling, I salute you. If you don't resist that urge, I don't judge you either, believe me. However, if you have ever taken a Terrible Twos child into a liquor store then you know quite well that, frankly, it is one of the worst ideas that you have ever had. Not because people will look at you funny ("Whadyalookinathuh??!!"), but rather because young outlaws like to hold big bottles of Wild Turkey in their buttery fingers. And drop them.
Image: JMR Photography
Places with Trampolines 10 of 14
Instead of going through all the motions in order to achieve the end result of allowing your toddler a bit of trampoline time with other kids, I think you might as well just go ahead and take your child down to the local park and swing him or her around like a medieval weapon until they whack heads with some other kids. Because, let's face facts, that's where this thing was headed all along.
Image Credit: Pawel Loj
To Get Your Oil Changed 11 of 14
You know those places where you go to have your car's oil changed while you wait in the worst room on the planet Earth, watching horrific TV while you attempt to convince yourself that it's not so bad, while you skim through a three-year-old copy of a magazine called Modern Transmission Digest? Well, if you take your toddler into one of those rooms, knowing what you know, then you deserve what will happen to you. Because they are going to turn on you like a rabid wolf.
Image Credit: Bill Bradford
The Toy Store 12 of 14
There isn't much to look forward to when the doors swing open at the toy store and you enter the chamber of horrors with your wild-eyed toddler. They will become over-stimulated and cry. They will exhibit the worst forms of greed and thanklessness. They will, across the span of thirty seconds, smile and laugh and be happier than you have ever seen them just to flop down on the filthy floor and throw a conniption when you refuse to buy them that stupid $700 nine-foot stuffed giraffe that poops fudge. Toy stores are great... without kids.
Image Credit: Alex Schwenke
Or Places with Characters 13 of 14
Some kids love to be around grown-ups dressed as their favorite cartoon characters or Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. And some kids are terrified of the whole experience. If you have a toddler that isn't comfortable getting hugs from Mickey Mouse or high-fives from Santa's elves, don't press the issue. They aren't weird and you aren't raising them wrong. Unless, of course, you keep insisting that they approach one of these demonic-looking beasts when they totally don't want to, in which case, you really deserve the epic meltdown heading your way.
Image Credit: Villains Wiki
All in Fun 14 of 14
Okay, full disclosure: In case you haven't picked up on my twisted sense of humor, the whole point of this article was to make you smile and to shine a little light on just how funny I find the whole toddler/parent experience. Most of these examples are kind of ridiculous, of course! I hardly mean that you should never take your kids to a toy store or a grocery store, because you will... and you should. Just remember, though, that toddlers are a very special species and just when we think we have them figured out, they turn everything upside down. It's kind of awesome, really. Even if they do end up giving you heartburn for the rest of your life. Thanks for reading!!!
Image: My son Henry and me. Halloween 2013.