5 Lessons Parents of Toddlers Learn1
1. Silence is not golden
There is a saying that “Silence is golden unless you have kids in which case silence is just very suspicious.” In the paradox of parenting, that peace and quite you so crave can quickly become your worst nightmare. Don’t get too comfortable, the other shoe (and maybe the glass of grape juice) is about to drop.
2. The whole world is a blank canvas
See that wall you just painted? We’ll, one parent’s semi-gloss is another child’s primer, and your entire living room is about to get a serious re-design by a child who sees the entire world as a blank canvass, and nothing in your home is safe. Not your walls. Not your furniture. Not your carpet. Not your clothing. Not even their own skin can be protected from serving as a backdrop for toddler art.
3. You must always win the battle of wills
It starts with a simple refusal to eat a vegetable. It ends with a knock down, drag out fight in which the child finally eats the vegetable, while the bloodied parents celebrate a victory of survival that would make Rocky Balboa proud. Sure, it may have required that you sentence the child to eternal grounding, proactively cancel next weeks vacation in order to hunker down for the long haul and contemplate calling in the National Guard to deal with the crisis. The most important thing, though, is that you won this battle of wills, keeping your undefeated record intact, and preventing your child from the lifetime of delinquency that is at stake every time the two of you engage in a battle of wills.
4. Looking at the camera is like looking at the sun—possible, for just a second, but very painful.
Look at the camera. Smile. Say cheese. Look over here. Where’s daddy? Look right here. What’s daddy doing? Is he making a funny face? Is he waving like a desperate man stranded on an island trying to get noticed by the search plane? Is he dancing around like a wild man and making every rational human being within miles feel very uncomfortable and concerned about his sanity? Can we just get one decent picture!?!
5. Children are a gift from God and a blessing when they are sleeping.
Make no mistake, your parents love you. We love how adorable you are. We love your sweet childhood innocence, carefree spirit and how you make us laugh. We love watching you grow, the faces you make and the blessing you are to us. But most of all, we love it when you sleep. After all, when you sleep, that means we can also sleep, and that, my child, is the greatest blessing of all.
Laughing and Trusting
On a serious note, there are a few more things I have learned over the years of parenting Samuel (8), Issac (7) and Josiah (4). They have taught me to laugh and to trust God.
When we named our son Issac, which means laughter, we had no idea how prophetic that was. A day rarely goes by when he does not say something that has us rolling on the floor laughing. In a world that is full of challenges and disappointments, God’s gift of toddlers can provide hours of entertainment and family joy that brings bright reprieve from the dark sorrows of life. As a parent, I have learned to cherish those moments of joy and to share them with others on Facebook when appropriate.
The other lesson we have learned as parents is to trust. With each new child comes a new challenge. As each child enters a new season of life, a new challenge is introduced. As parents we are constantly relearning how to be parents, trying to remember how we did things with our older kids and driven to our knees to trust God for wisdom when we have none of our own. If your kids can somehow emerge into adulthood unscathed, it will only be by the grace of God, overcoming our weaknesses, providing a buffer against our critical mistakes and doing a work of grace in their hearts. Because of what we know about the gospel, this is something we’re on firm ground to trust God for.