Standardised Toddler Testing

I am never, ever, ever judging a parent again, especially one with a toddler.  Here's why you shouldn't either.

Remember back in school where they have standardised testing?  Or the driving test.  Or any multiple choice test?  Let's have a test and see how you do

Question 1:  2+2 =  [].  What number goes in the box to finish the equation?

Answer:    a)  13
                 b)  4
                 c)  7, 248
                 d)  All of the above
                 e)  None of the above

Obviously, the answer to this question is B.  Simple objective question, simple objective answer.

Now, we'll move on to something a bit harder.

Question 2:  Pat has a book.  What should she do with it?

Answer:   a) Read it.
                b) Eat it.
                c)  Line the birdcage with it.
                d) All of the above.
                e)  None of the above.

This question seems totally random, because actually all of them could technically be right.  She could theoretically do any of those things or none of them because we have no more information.  I was totally convinced in high school that our standardised tests all had at least one of these questions that seemed totally random and didn't give us enough info to answer.

Many people assume that caring for a child is like Question 1.  It's not.  Here's an example why:

Question 3:  Becky has a son called Oliver.  You don't know anything else about them except their names.  You see them in the mall next to a place that sells food. Oliver begins to say "Hungry" over and over.  Oliver starts to cry very loudly.  What should Becky do to get him to shut up and stop screaming his head off?

Answer:  a) Buy the dang kid some food.
               b) Take him to a location away from you so that you can't hear him.
               c) Make him stop crying the old-fashioned way: with a slap, smack, spanking, or stick.
               d) Scream at him until he stops.
               e) All of the above.
               f) None of the above.

You might read this and think that any of those things is a possibility, although you will likely have a preference to which one you would choose based on your age, class, upbringing and many other factors.  It's a totally subjective question, and it's meant to be that way.

However, the thing that no parenting book seems to tell anyone is this:  All the possible answers are wrong anyway.  There is literally no method of parenting or activity that will keep your toddler from crying.  And the worst part is that they know it.  They are basically sentient beings now with no off switch, 0-60 in 1 second, and the volume turned up to 11 all the time.  And it's not just the very public tantrums and meltdowns that you have to make the "right" decision about.  It's 24/7 guilty feelings that every single minuscule decision is going to harm your child's future.

Is this solution going to make them more spoiled?  Is that solution going to make them a brat?  Are they actually budding, manipulative psychopaths-in-training?!  If I discipline them the wrong way in public will someone call Social Services?  Am I going to hurt them by dragging their screaming, crying, squirming bodies by the arms to avoid getting kicked in the face?

If you are a parent who has not thought any of these things, I would totally buy your parenting book.

But the truth is, I don't think there is a solution.  The thought of that drives me absolutely bonkers, because we live in a world focused on solutions to problems, and I, like most other people, like nice, neat answers to questions.

But then life happens.  Like a few weeks ago.  I was sick with a virus (thanks, Ella!) for two whole days, and although I really didn't feel like going out, Ella was doing nothing but crying and screaming and hanging on me.  Why couldn't she just play?!  I offered her numerous options, but none of them were the right answer to stop the crying.  Then, she said "Keyboart. Pinano.  Not working."  It had run out of batteries and so had we.  Yes, I thought, I'm willing to go out and get batteries from around the corner!  Anything so you'll stop crying.

"Would you like to take the buggy or walk to get the batteries?"


"Are you sure?  I cannot carry you all the way home because I'm tired and poorly.  Let's take the buggy just in case."

"NO!!!!!  No buggy.  Walk.  Walk to shop."

"Okay, fine."  (Note:  it's not that far, and I didn't have the energy to argue.)

So, we get all the shoes and socks and coats on, and we begin to walk.  Two meters out of the front gate, Ella says "Buggy?"  The buggy is still in the hall closet, and I have locked the front door.  I don't want to make her think she can just constantly change her mind and I will acquiesce to all her demands, thereby making her a spoiled brat, so I say "No, Ella said walk, so we are walking."

So, I sort of half-dragged and half-walked a grueling million paces to a store that is literally five adult minutes walk away.  In toddler minutes, it normally takes 20-30 minutes.  Sometimes I find it sweet that she wants to look at each flower and leaf and weed on the way.  This time, I just wanted her to stop whining.  She managed to whine and hang on me all the way to the store.

However, the moment we walked in the store, it was like I'd given her a Starbucks double shot with extra syrup.  She ran, screaming down the aisle as I feebly tried to apologize to every single person in our grocery store.  After I finally caught up to her in the candy section, she did what I like to call "The Crime Scene."  She makes herself into the shape of a dead body, weighing just as much while holding her breath and simultaneously emitting a high-pitched shriek.  More dragging of heavy child limbs.  At this point, I look like I'm rescuing her from drowning more than parenting.

For some reason, as we are picking up the batteries for the stupid toy piano, she decides that she is the sweetest, cutest, most adorable child in the history of all children, and she flirts with everyone around us.  It totally works on the people who do not live with her and the Aldi cashier.  They think she is Shirley Temple reincarnate without realizing that she's more like a creepy baby doll that wants to eat your soul.

As we leave, she waves to everyone with her adorable "Bye, people!  See you! Thank you!"  It was all very cute, but I knew the adorability was about to end in a bad way.

"Okay, doll-baby, it's time to go home!"

Then, she literally does this (without turning green or tearing her clothes):

I beg her to walk home, plead with her, promise her all the chocolate and Frozen her little heart desires.

I scold her, telling her that SHE WANTED TO WALK.


You parents know what that means.  It's a cute way of saying: "You are about to carry 30 pounds of toddler all the way home."

But this time I couldn't do it.  I literally didn't have the energy.  So we stopped, I dragged, she walked two steps then LAID DOWN IN THE ROAD.  Me screaming "We are both going to get hit by a car! GET UP!"  More dragging.  More crying (both of us this time).  

It took us 32 minutes to get home.  From a shop that I can see from our bedroom window.

Then, to top it all off, Daddy walks in the door and Ella becomes adorable Shirley Temple baby again.

Meanwhile, this is me:

Question 4:  Toddler is crazy? How do you deal?



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