When I was pregnant for the first time, I went out and bought all the books about what to expect from my infants that would soon grow into toddlers and then preschoolers. Well, maybe my cheap self just spent lots of time in Barnes and Noble reading all the books without buying them, but doesn't everyone do that? Anyway, I liked to read the books that would tell you what to expect at each stage of development. You know, so you could know what to be looking for and things like that. Things like rolling over, sitting, and walking all happened during their requisitioned times and I admit I felt pretty smug knowing exactly what my little triplet terrors were going to do next. No way were they going to surprise me with something totally out of the blue that I wasn't ready for, no sir-ee Bob. But, despite all my careful preparation, I was blindsided. Once those little buggers started opening their mouths and intelligible words started coming out, I was doomed. Gone was my world of predictable milestones and time lines. I now entered every public situation cautiously, unable to predict what my little trio might do or say at any time. Life became ....
For those of you who know me and my love of control, you can see the shudders coursing through my body as I read the capitalized word above. There is nothing I loathe more than being out of control. Luckily, I serve a God with a sense of humor and he chose to give me, the Queen of Planning and Control, four children in under 17 months. If that doesn't force you to give up control to the One who really IS in control, nothing will. Anyway, I am reminded of my not-in-control-ness every day by the sporadic and unforeseeable episodes that riddle my life. So, without further ado, here are a few examples of the things the books don't tell you will happen - the random, every day occurrences that have become the screenplay of my life.
You will have to talk to your children WAY earlier than you think about certain unmentionable body parts. I thought this stuff wasn't going to happen until years down the road, but I was totally floored when it surfaced before age two. All I can say is to know in advance what you are going to call certain body parts and be completely comfortable with that terminology because your children will undoubtedly be saying those choice words every day. Very loudly. In very public places.
Your children will need help doing the strangest things. I anticipated the booty wiping after the potty and cutting up all of their food into tiny morsels (Anyone know when that ends? Because I think I'm developing carpal tunnel from the constant fork and knife gripping), but some things just throw me for a loop. For example, I spent half of lunch time last week trying to pick a piece of apple out of Sam's teeth that he insisted was there and that I absolutely could not see. However, he simply would not take another bite until it was gone to his satisfaction. I think I used 25 yards of floss (as well as a fork prong and the pointy end of a toy fire truck ladder) trying to get it out.
Your children will be afraid of the strangest things. I was all prepared (via my books, of course) to comfort them when they started having nightmares and visions of monsters in their closets, but that never happened. Instead, I have one child who is afraid of the electric mixer, one who is afraid of any dog under 15 pounds, and one who started crying hysterically yesterday because, as she put it, "The lights were going to get her!"
Here's Adah the moment she heard me say "mixer."
You must be very, VERY careful what you say around toddlers and preschoolers because you never know when they will actually begin to take you literally. Peyton, in particular, is our literalist. I have now successfully made her terrified of parking lots because one time (ONE time people) I told her that a truck would run her over if she didn't hold my hand in the parking lot. I'm sweet, I know - but I was lugging a 30 pound baby and trying to get all of them across the street in one piece, etc, etc. She now has started shrieking if any vehicle comes within 100 feet of us and one time almost ran into oncoming traffic while trying to avoid one of these cars that was "out to get her." Nice. Glad the books warned me on that one.
So, basically, all I can say is that reading those developmental books are great up until about the end of year one. After that, you may as well toss them out the window. I've started to figure that there must be so many development books out there because absolutely no one really knows what they are talking about. No book was there to warn me about the fear of lights or having a child who refused to poop for a week, so I guess I just have to go at it on my own. Maybe I'll write my own book one day to join the multitudes that are already out there. My working title is: "The Unknown World of Raising Toddlers: Mommy, I have a _____ (insert choice reproductive organ title HERE)!" What do you think?