I revisited toddler-world today for the first time in a long time, when I had two under- fours in the back of my car. One had diarrhoea and we had to stop the car every five minutes and the other didn’t want to be in the car at all – and more particularly, definitely not in his car seat.
Such was the degree of arch in his back, I might have been putting him in an electric chair.
Fortunately, both responded well to bribery, juice and Maltesers in those real moments of crisis.
Nevertheless, I was forced to resort to some mindfulness to dull the noise from the back seat and to disguise the ominous smell of a dirty nappy that wafted menacingly on the journey home.
And while I was holding my breath, I found myself mentally comparing the similarities and differences of parenting toddlers with my current torture of teenagers.
And there aren’t as many differences as you’d think.
The Similarities Between Toddlers and Teenagers:
Ego-Centricity – The world revolves around both age groups if you allow it to. Yesterday, my 16 year old son dragged himself into the car, still plugged into his Ipod, changed Smooth FM to some infernal noise of his choice and them took my Iphone out of my handbag to check his Facebook page. When I looked at him in disbelief, he looked puzzled as he shouted a ‘WHAAAT?’
Language Development – Both age-groups grunt a lot but the grunts that come out of a toddler’s mouth tend to be cute little attempts at big, new words that make you smile with pride. The grunts that spill out of the teenage mouth usually contain at least one F word, 25 ‘likes’ and are completely unintelligible.
Language Interpretation – At both stages of important growth time, cognitive development is taking place, although that is often hard to believe with teenagers. Just as toddlers can find it hard to interpret this language of ours, so can teenagers; this may have more to do with selectiveness than a limited vocabulary knowledge.
The Use of Distraction As A Parenting Strategy – fortunately, both age-groups still fall hook, line and sinker for this strategy. It works particularly well with any type of food as well as technology – mobile phones, Ipads and lollies still remain the best babysitting/distraction device for both age groups
Toddler: I want a biscuit!
Mum: Look at that plane in the sky.
Teen: Mum, can I have some money?
Mum: OMG, did you see how short that girl’s skirt was?
The word ‘No’ – Neither age group can seem to comprehend this word.
The concept of bedtime – Neither age group can seem to comprehend this concept.
Tantrums – both age-groups excel in this area, displayed via the slamming of doors, stamping of feet and shouting a lot when they can’t get their own way.
Innovation – both creatures are highly innovative when it comes to getting their own way. They can tell bare-faced lies to get out of trouble, they embellish and see no shame in doing what is necessary to win the war.
The Death-Wish Both age-groups share a passion for impulsiveness and thrill-seeking which often leads them into trouble. They are both also highly influenced by their peers. Why do we need to put socket safety covers on? Why do we have to hide the car keys and our purses? THEY CAN’T BE TRUSTED. They also share a love of the ‘pretending to be dead’ game so you still have to check their breathing nightly with a little nudge – especially after they’ve walked through the door at 2am, inebriated.
The Differences Between Toddlers and Teenagers:
When a teenager says he hates you, he probably means it.
Toddlers are much cheaper than teenagers.
Toddlers only require one towel per bath.
Teenagers are generally house-trained and only poo their pants occasionally – and the good news is that you can rub their nose in it afterwards and make them clear it up themselves to teach them about responsibility.
You can laugh at/with a toddler.
Toddlers still love their parents and want to be with them all the time.
Attachment disorder is rarely a problem with teenagers.
Teenagers judge you whereas a toddler still worships the ground you walk on.
Those torturous sleepover nights when you couldn’t get toddlers to sleep are finally over. When you have teenagers, your problem is waking them up.
Threatening teenagers with sending them back to the adoption centre no longer works.