Have you ever lived with a three year old? So yes, you know exactly why I'm not in fact loading the dishwasher with my limoncello apron on and instead am sitting on a bedroom floor to prevent the escape of one such minuscule tyrant. Er, um, 'blameless human being.' Ahem. Whilst I await her imminent descent into dreamland.
And by "descent into dreamland" I mean "demanding of a band aid, a glass of water, and the removal of toe-jam from her unfortunate eye socket."
Don't ask me. I'm not the one with toe jam in my eye.
(What's that? What's a limoncello apron? I'm glad you asked!
An apron with a limoncello recipe on it, of course.)
Where am I going with this? Ah yes, talking to toddlers. The first rule of talking to toddler is:
1. Never talk to toddlers.
See, when you first acquire one of these fine creatures, you might think to, you know, "get involved" with their imaginary playtime. Do. Not. Do. This. Oh my sweetbabyjeezus. If the toddler is playing peacefully DO NOT APPROACH. Not touch, to talk, no eye contact. Tip toe. Peak around corners. Use a mirror on a bent stick to supervise if you must. Whatever it takes, man. Do not initiate unnecessary conversation. Ever. It will only end badly.
2. If you must talk to toddlers, try not to actually talk.
"Mmmmmm..., really? Mmmmmhmmmmm. Yep. Uhhuh. Is that so? Wow. Neat"
I don't care what the folks at the First 5 Program or whatever it's called say. If the toddler has initiated conversation with you and is rambling on about something, the above are the only phrases you need. Do not try to impress them. Toddlers do not want to be impressed! Trust me. They just want to hear themselves talk.
For example, if you interrupt a toddler to gently suggest that perhaps Piglet is a boy and not a girl and you are fairly certain of this due to the fact that you are a literate human being who has actually read real live books (unlike them, in all their chalk-smeared-on-the-face glory. But don't say that either.), you might as well take their precious lovey and cover it in peanut butter and throw it to the dogs whilst trying to shave the child's head and clip his/her nails simultaneously. Their reaction to the latter scenario will be NO MORE DRAMATIC than the manner in which they will respond to your fictional character gender suggestion. True freaking story.
3. Agree with everything
Now look. My three year old knows that Germany is a country in Europe and that the Nile is a river and there it is right there on the map. Clearly my tips result in savant toddlers with geographic knowledge that exceeds most graduating high school seniors. Well, my high school at least. So you can trust me, yes? Agree with everything they say. This is one of my favorite tips because eventually you can stop even trying to decipher what is going on and instead you just listen to the tone.
Happy tone: say things that basically mean "yes".
Scandalized tone: say things that are the equivalent of "that's crazy talk!"
But above all, you must never disagree or ask them to clarify anything ever when they are on a talking jag, which is approximately 29 hours out of each 24 hour period, of course.
4. Make stuff up
Like, you know, if they ask you who your favorite pony is DO NOT ASK THEM FOR MORE INFORMATION. Just say something. Anything. My go-to for this question is "Twilight Sparkle," which is actually true. My husband answers "Rainbow Dash," which is a complete fabrication so he can go back to following rule #2 ASAP while praying to be able to follow #1 again at some point in the evening.
Other examples include questions involving people's age, the names of people you do not know, the reasons for things that have not actually happened, and the scientific reasons for sciencey things. Remember these are toddlers, folks. I'm not talking about a 6 year old here, who would actually benefit from, like, a google search or something. But no. The toddler will, mark my words, find a way to become angry if you start going on about heat rising and salt dissolving and DOG POOP NOT COMING OUT OF THE CARPET AND THAT IS WHY YOU WEAR THE SHOES AND THEN REMOVE THE SHOES, OKAY?
5. Sit on the floor with a laptop and ignore them as they insist they are not tired
Because BOOM, the child is asleep.
Thank you, internet! You saved our day!