We are tasked with teaching our children common courtesy. It’s the right and decent thing to do. But be careful about starting this training too early. Rather, start as early as you can, but know that you are not bound by the rules you teach.
In their formative years, we are prone to try to treat our little ones as people. It comes from a kind place, it does, but it is true folly. Many ‘common courtesies,’ in fact, are less than ineffective. It is often counterproductive. So for you, for your kids, for the future of society, please cast aside these ‘common courtesies’ while with your toddlers.
I prefer ‘pay attention.’ It’s a thing you can do. I mean, if I’m there, it’s literally impossible for me to not ‘be present,’ though I’ve been told repeatedly that I’m not. I don’t really know what they were talking about. I wasn’t listening. But I was there. How could I have been elsewhere?
And being there for a toddler is important several times a day. Other times, like the 12th time they’ve explained the specific misunderstanding they have of how the game ‘Blue’s Clues’ is played, is definitely a good time for you to plan dinner, think about fantasy sports or just slowly drift off to sleep. I promise you, they won’t notice.
Speak Not Of Bodily Functions
To the contrary. You will find yourself cheering like a drunken hockey fan for a little one bringing you the gift of a pile of crap in a puddle of piss in a pot. Turns out its the only decent thing to do.
Pajamas are for Bedtime.
I could not be less interested in this form of decency. There is no more informal setting than a private home with toddlers. I’d go so far as to say this is an oppressive request. Back off me and my comfy shorts, world, you have no idea the things we’ve seen together. This will surely change when they grow up, but for now ‘comfort’ is my cry of freedom.
Do Not Relieve Yourself in the Living Room
We are currently between potty trainers, and the thought of this reality is horrifying. That said, we have no bathroom on the first floor. We aren’t leaving the four year old alone for the ungodly amount of time new potty trainers often like to sit on the potty. Hence, we plop our pot in the living room, where the entertainment is. That way we can all try to focus on anything other than the elephant in the room who is learning to poop in the potty.
These are people only in a technical sense. With regard to this ‘human right’ — the expectation that one is afforded the option to consent to an act before it is done — there is no use for it here. Have you ever tried to get a toddler to agree to do a thing they are opposed to? Besides, is ‘no’ really an option when it comes to dinner, bath, bed or forcible removal of a toddler who has been given the wrong color straw?
Courtesies are important for children to learn. Particularly the fourth one. (Seriously, if that one is an issue for any real length of time, you should probably consider speaking to a doctor.) But for the rest of them? One of the things we have to keep in mind is that rules are guidelines made to be ignored on occasion — one such occasion being when our kids are toddlers. It’s about the only time you can say such a ridiculous thing as “Ddo as I say, not as I do.” They’ll take it.
We know how crazy it is to suggest that they shouldn’t learn from our actions but rather by our rules. The great thing is, they don’t know that yet. Amazing, right? So for this excruciatingly long, very brief moment in time that is the toddler years, be bold, teach well, and always remember, pajamas are perfectly acceptable any hour of the day!