The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

July 2, 2014

Adventures in raising a toddler ….

By Jonathan Deal

— I couldn’t get to work fast enough. From the moment I woke up at 5:30 to “I WANT MY SNACK, DAAADY,” it was a race to get out the door.

For the next two hours, I try to get ready for work while a 3-foot-tall ball of energy sets out to destroy my home.

The amount of destruction a toddler can do in less than two hours is a remarkable feat. By the time my wife and I dress him, he will have strewn his toys across the house and rearranged his stuffed animals in a less-than organized fashion.

People without small children can’t fully grasp what it’s like go through this ritual every morning and afternoon during the workweek.

So I’ve decided to walk you through every step of a morning with my 2 1/2- year-old son, Dylan. Hopefully, you will enjoy the adventure and maybe even learn something along the way.

Friday, June 20

Fridays are the best or the worst days to get ready for work. On the one hand, it’s almost the weekend and Dylan knows tomorrow means, “no more school.”

On this Friday, however, Dylan was convinced the weekend was already here and he didn’t have to go to day care. It’s a conversation we have probably every other day. Even though we get ready and go to day care five days a week, Dylan tries to talk his way out of it.

After convincing him that, yes, he does have to wear shoes, we go downstairs to eat breakfast where he manages to spill Cheerios in every crevice of our kitchen table. As I sit down to eat a bowl of cereal, I hear the back door creep open. It can mean only one thing. Dylan is outside with our 100-pound shepherd, Duke.

This would normally be fine, but it’s only a matter of time before Dylan digs his hands in the dirt and is washing them in Duke’s water bowl.

Not exactly what you want to deal with after just wrestling with him to wash up and get dressed.

But, I go outside. Dylan is in his battery-operated truck, trying  to turn it on. When he figures out the simple action of turning a switch, it will mean the end of my garden and flowerbeds.

When I tell him it’s time to leave for school, the day’s first meltdown ensues. Dylan not only wants to drive his truck, he wants to drive the 12-volt battery operated toy across town to school.

This is where using logic is completely useless in dialogue with a child.  All the obvious reasons a toddler can’t drive to day care fall on deaf ears.

We finally go inside where he sees our cat on the table and about to drink his milk.

“MY MILK!,” Dylan screams as he runs inside and quickly downs his milk.

“More, please,” he says politely in a total reversal of his outside attitude.

At this point, it’s time to load up and head to day care. But not without his milk. He hasn’t forgotten.

The only thing I can find in the way of a spill-proof cup is a giant red alien souvenir from the U.S. Space & Rocket and Center.

When Dylan sees me pour the milk of his favored cup into the red one, another meltdown ensues — all of this while the car is running and we are running late.

As we load him into the car, he suddenly stops crying and, with a little tear on his cheek, says, “Bye-bye daddy. I wuv you.”

Jonathan Deal is the sports editor at The News Courier and pround father of Dylan.