So parenting a toddler is a lot like managing a restaurant. Allow me to make a few practical comparisons. To begin with, every day is different and you never know what you're going to get until you get hit with it. Whether its an attitude, an event, an accident, or mess, you know it will happen just not when or where. Having worked in a restaurant (particularly the kitchen) for the last 11 years it is easy for me to look to the past for support in the future. Today, when blueberry smoothie went flying all over the door, walls, stairs and me, I thought, "this is just like cleaning up soup in the walk in, it's best to start with a dust pan". When a particular snack is desired but we have run out, a toddler freaks out, not dissimilar to a customer's, "what do you mean you're out of avocado??" "But I am here, and that is what I wanted". Rather then just saying it is not available, it is important to re-direct the attention of the toddler or guest by suggesting another item that might also meet their needs, "Perhaps you would like some cheese instead?"
Of course I can think of millions of examples but among my favourites at present we have the staff to toddler comparison. Both need constant encouragement, re-direction, reminders, repetition, demonstration, more encouragement, and a little discipline now and then. When told that a diaper must be worn under one's bathing suit when going out in public the reaction is similar to when a staff person is reminded that they need to clean the whole fridge and not just the parts that "look dirty". When the toddler tires of a book right in the middle and closes the pages in one fell swoop, it reminds me of a staff person's cutting all but the last block of cheese because they were "tired of slicing" or "forgot". It's all logical of course, it's just that there is occasionally a lack of perspective. Most importantly I have comet to terms with the reality that both the staff person and toddler folk need routine. Plan each day to run the same and they will likely cope with small variations. Leave them guessing and you will often see more than one freak out, "but I always have a snack before night night", or "but I'm supposed to be on break right now, you want me to go after we finish this catering?" I find myself reminded that we all have expectations and communicating those is often the problem.
My final super deep thought today is just this. In a restaurant we open our doors, make a huge mess, clean it up and go home. Then we repeat the whole cycle again the next day, phew! Exhausting right? Well the same seems to be true of parenting. Wake up, destroy the house, eat everything, get the little people to bed (or close) and then clean up so you are ready to repeat in the morning. Talk about routine, hah! I love it, and thinking about it this way helps me be less preventative in our daily life experience and indulge in the moment a little more readily.
Thank goodness for dust pans!