If you've got toddlers, you probably know what's on tap for the holidays: Your family prepares a beautiful Thanksgiving feast, but your kid only wants chicken nuggets. Your young twins are dressed in their finest for pictures with Santa, but scream at the sight of him. You're frantic to finish your holiday shopping, but your preschooler wants to stop to watch the garbage truck or a spider walking across the sidewalk.
With all that's nerve-racking about parenting, especially over the ramped-up holidays, it helps to have a sense of humor. In "The World According to Toddlers" (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2011), authors Shannon Payette Seip and Adrienne Hedger share what makes toddlers tick.
For instance, here is how toddlers view holiday characters, the authors say: Santa is always watching, taking notes about who's bad and who's good. He breaks into the house while the family is sleeping. The Easter Bunny is 100 feet tall at the mall, breaks into the house and hides eggs. Both sound creepy.
Toddlers on clothing: What your toddler wants to wear has nothing to do with the weather, the occasion or whether it matches. There's no such thing as "clashing patterns" or "dirty clothes." Right shoe and left shoe? Makes no sense.
If Dad's in charge of dressing the child, Seip and Hedger say, be prepared for the outfit to be even zanier. Ditto if there's a pair of inappropriately fancy shoes, a tutu or superhero cape nearby.
On parties, whether for a holiday or birthday: Mom's idea of a successful party involves a theme, games, decorations, craft projects, beverages, snacks and goodie bags. Your toddler's idea of a great party? Presents and frosting. Keep it simple.
The authors also dish up plenty of "tips for toddlers, from toddlers," like the following:
* Anytime you see an airplane, make sure your parents see it and appreciate it.
* Things are either the "best ever" or the "worst ever." There is no middle ground.
* You should be shouting "Me do it!" left and right.
* Whatever you see is yours. Claim it with a decisive "Mine."
* Whether you're hungry, tired or uncomfortable, the solution is to repeat "Mommy!" in rapid-fire succession.
* "Poop." This word is hilarious. Also try "poopy head" or "poopy pants."
* "Why?" should be the automatic response to any of your parents' directions.
Finally, if the holidays have you dazed and you aren't sure whether you have toddlers or not, take this simple test: What's in your car? The authors suggest checking for typical toddler fare such as cracker crumbs, a dried-out package of wipes, at least eight CDs that contain cartoon voices, three different single shoes, the grocery list you needed last week and a backseat window adorned with slobber, fingerprints and stickers.
Mom and Dad, fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride. It will be over before you know it.
Remind your kids that the best way to keep from getting strep throat is to wash your hands often and avoid sharing eating utensils or cups.
Betsy Flagler, a journalist based in Davidson, N.C., is a mother and preschool teacher. If you have tips or questions, please email her at email@example.com or call Parent to Parent at 704-236-9510.