So long, Toddler Time

It started with an innocent Freaky Friday daydream, parenting-columnist style. 

“Your kids are toddlers now. You should do a guest spot at Toddler Time,” I said to Shannon Keough, Minnesota Parent’s Baby on Board columnist.

“And you know babies!” she countered. “Maybe we could trade places for a round?”

Well, one thing led to another, and Shannon and I decided to ask our editor if we could make the switch — not once, but permanently. And she said yes! 

And so this is my very last Toddler Time column.  

I’ve often called the toddler years MY hardest years of parenting. 

Unlike the baby years and the school-aged years, the 2s and 3s and 4s didn’t come naturally to me. 

This left me roughly three years full of topics to dwell on with you, Toddler Parent, currently in the trenches. 

This also allowed for some backtrack healing, too: OK, maybe I wasn’t as clueless as I thought I was at the time. Maybe the toddler years were OK after all. Maybe I did the best I could. 

Your words

And, through it all, I’ve read your letters! 

You, who continued breastfeeding because I wrote about the benefits (and challenges) of toddler breastfeeding. I cherish you!

You who shared a little bit of your private lives with me when I explored the art of having foreplay, sex and subsequent cleanup in the span of a 21-minute episode of Wonder Pets. 

Together, we laughed. And got the job done, damn it.

I’m so grateful for the preschool teachers and pediatricians — and Moms and Dads — who shared information and inspiration; for the times you all patiently let me digress — throwing in references to Girls and Scandal, and getting slightly off topic momentarily to discuss mommy stereotypes and the importance of Dad’s Night Out. 

I’m so thankful for all of this and my brilliant editor, Sarah Jackson: She makes me look good. She nominates Toddler Time for awards. And — together — we WIN! 

Go forth and prosper

Onward, Toddler Parent, and the just-beyond Toddler Parents who have taken my words, I hope, with a healthy grain of salt. 

May you handle the potty-training mishap at the fancy Edina Art Fair — It’s the brown kind, Mommy! — better than I did. May you finally figure out what the heck actually goes down at a Montessori school. May you successfully petition to get Dora’s vocal chords snipped. May you chase a million more bubbles and give in to the first puppy. 

May you brave Chuck E. Cheese’s (again) and fill piñatas with Smarties and Tootsie Rolls and so much love. 

May you blissfully watch them as they sleep — and eat 500 extra calories per day while finishing up half-eaten slices of pizza, peanut butter sandwich crusts and piles of stale Goldfish.

May you lie about the dead goldfish. May you teach and snuggle and read and dance in the rain.

May you remember your toddlers’ voices. What they were for Halloween. The way they perfectly mis-say the words spaghetti, true and Voldemort. 

Welcome, Shannon

As always, I cheer you on. I know you’re doing an awesome job, even while freaking out and shrieking and figuring out where to toss poop-bomb undies in the midst of a crowd, in Edina, on an otherwise glorious summer day. 

With that, I leave you in the very capable hands of my friend, Shannon. 

She’s coming in hot (next month) with a new title and a new take on the years between 1, 2, 3 and 4. 

Enjoy!


Jen Wittes is a freelance writer and mother of two who lives in St. Paul. Learn more about her work at jenwittes.com. Send questions or comments to jwittes@mnparent.com.