Parenting Guru: The 3 Things I Never Expected from My Toddlers

When it Comes to Parenting, You Can Only Prepare Yourself so Much

When my wife and I welcomed our daughter, Violet, into this world four years ago, we were as nervous as any brand new parent ever is.

Would we be able to love her enough? Would little Violet like us? And, oh man, what if she liked one of us better than the other one?!

We psyched ourselves out at times as we tossed every possible scenario at the wall of improbability. It's almost a rite of passage in a way, I think. As freshman moms and dads we almost need to scare ourselves into understanding that things will be okay, if that makes any sense.

Our baby daughter arrived safe and sound, thankfully, and the next two years were everything they were supposed to be: awesome and trying and beautiful and funny and tough. But they were never ever bad; and we were never ever at a loss with how to go forward, since we did what a zillion parents have done before us and trusted our instincts and had faith in our gut feelings.

And then a funny thing happened. Violet grew older, she turned into a toddler. Having a baby (and then having another one on the way when our daughter was 2) had found us concentrating our lives on baby stuff and baby ways. So, when out of nowhere our little girl began to mature and go through a wild amount of changes, it took us quite by surprise.

So, I though it would be cool to take a little look back at a few things that blew my mind in wonderful ways when our baby became a toddler:

Talking

I don't care what anyone ever says, watching your own child begin to speak a language is one of the greatest human experiences going. It is a first step toward this great big world of independence and possibility that awaits every little boy and girl. I hesitate to call it magic, because that word may be the wrong one scientifically speaking, but what the heck.

IT IS MAGIC!

For Violet, it didn't hurt that her first word was 'Dad' (moms: please note that this is very common and I think it has more to do with the ease of the word rather than a favorite parent!), and before long, by two-and-a-half, each and every day was a new adventure in vocabulary and super-charming pronunciation. Trust me when I tell you that hearing your little one saying simple stuff like "I wike chocwit!" and "Mommy wuvs me!" will rock your world in ways you never thought possible.

Affection

A word of warning to first time parents. Babies are cute, but they are stunningly void of affection for the most part. It's not their fault, of course; they're babies, after all, and their world consists of eating and sleeping and pooping. (Kind of like a college kid when you think about it, huh?) So, don't expect a lot of hugging or kissing or any of that stuff when your bambinos are still very young.

I dealt with that and got used to it too.

So, it came as super cool surprise when my daughter morphed into a toddler and suddenly couldn't wait to give mom and dad hugs and kisses. It was like a long one-sided courtship in which I had been the sole suitor was turned on its ear one day; the object of my affection was transformed before my very eyes from a milk-chugging carpet-crawling uninterested Ice Princess into the sweetest most loving cuddler I've ever known.

So, stay the course, people, and just know that more affection than you can manage is just around the corner from Babytown.

Friend

It's probably a genuine result of both talking and affection colliding during the toddler years, but the most surprising and beautiful thing that I have discovered as my kids hit 2 and 3 years old is that they actually become your best buddy pretty darn quickly.

I mean, sure, we can say that a baby is our best pal and there is a part of us that really means it, but let's be honest here, okay. It's nearly impossible to find much in common with a nine-month-old and babies are the worst most self-centered conversationalists this side of the sun.

Thus, it came as both shockingly unexpected and incredibly welcome when my daughter began talking up a blue streak, climbed up on the couch, plopped down next to me, and looked me in the eye as she told me that we should watch Dora the Explorer together. Right now.

It was the beginning of a great adventure, one which I hope will never ever end, really. We laugh at cartoons and stare in awe at animal shows. We sit and read Dr. Seuss together, chatting up each other like two caffeinated seniors in the diner. We eat popcorn out of the same bag and make animal noises together.

In all honesty, I never saw any of this coming.

Which is exactly the way it should be.

Serge Bielanko is proud to be a Shine Parenting Guru. He can also be found writing all about the ups/downs/joys/and blues of being a dad at Babble.com. and on his own blog, Thunder Pie.