When I had my first child, in a sleep-deprived haze I brought him to IKEA.
Where else would you be dragging your battered vagina and a colicky two-week old but on a shopping trip that could practically count as a duathlon event (shopping AND eating; it’s essentially cardio, everything is cardio with a baby in the mix).
I was passing a couple of seasoned toddler mums and saw them indicating my teeny tiny shopping buddy. I then overheard then utter the immortal line:
“Don’t you miss the baby days when they were so easy.”
“What the fu*k are they talking about???” I screamed inside my head.
Now I know what they were talking about: the toddler years.
Everyone expends much mental energy debating whether they are baby-ready when really they are asking the wrong question. They are not thinking about what follows a baby. Babies are easy compared with toddlers. Put stuff in the top, it comes out the bottom. Very manageable when compared with the systematic spirit-breaking employed by your average toddler on a day to day basis.
I’ve devised a convenient checklist for would-be toddler parents. If you answer ‘yes’ to 8 or more of the following 10 questions then you might just be toddler ready. To the rest of you, sadly the toddler years are not optional so good luck.
Forget baby-ready: 10 signs you are toddler-ready
1. Do you know the Jedi art of mind control? Because toddlers do. Luckily it’s not hard to learn: toddlers control our thoughts and actions through SCREAMING. It’s not particularly scientific, they just scream until you are weeping and they are victorious.
2. Have you survived in a hostile environment littered with squished banana and stray Lego underfoot?
3. Can you tolerate watching Apocalypse Now at full volume with Underworld’s Born Slippy being played on repeat while someone plays ‘not touching can’t get mad’ with your face? And yes, this is a completely accurate representation of life with a toddler.
4. Are you proficient at herding drunken people from place to place, aiding their eating, sleeping and defecating? Because again yes, this is the perfect preparation for life with a toddler.
5. Can you withstand telemarketing levels of repetitive patter? Bring a friend on the supermarket shop with you and ask them to repeat the words ‘monkey cereal’ and ‘muma’ continuously for the duration, if you don’t crack open a Pinot in the booze aisle you’re doing pretty well. Drinking it in the car park is totally fine, you’ve earned it. Just don’t drive.
6. Are you cool with someone revealing personal details about you to complete strangers? Encourage a friend to chat loudly on the bus about your ‘front bum beard’ as a test.
7. Do you deal well with stickiness? Because everything will be sticky. Always.
8. Are you stoic in the face of endlessly being thwarted? Clean your house and then invite a friend to feck Weetabix everywhere.
9. Are you handy with a chisel? Essential during the toddler years for Weetabix and snot removal.
10. Do you love Frozen? I mean do you looooooooove Frozen? You will. You have to. Because Frozen is not optional.