Nobody Told Me That Kids Don’t Come With An Instructions Manual.

I’m just going to throw this right on out there…. If I hear one more person tell me to “choose my battles wisely” when it comes to raising my toddler, I may just combust. I will purposely spray all of my exhausted mommy guts, all over their face – Walking Dead style.

With no regrets or remorse.

“Choose your battles wisely.” What the heck does that even mean? Obviously, I understand its literal meaning, but how do I choose which battles I am going to fight? What am I basing this decision off of? We all know that there are no manuals that are birthed out along with our children.

How lovely would this be?

I absolutely would take fifteen more seconds of pain during childbirth if it meant that there would be an instructions manual attached to my child at the end of all of it. I feel like some manuals would be thicker than others, depending on how difficult or strong-willed they are. For example, my son’s manual would be like birthing another child (just with sharp edges and in hardcover form) and my daughter, who just sits and giggles all day, her manual would be super thin and probably paperback…. something like that.

Since I obviously have not been supplied with child handbooks, I am forced to figure out this mess on my own, just like all of you poor suckers. I guess I could look to self-help parenting books for advice…. because that’s not overwhelming and confusing at all. You can seriously find a parenting book along with countless online articles to back up anything you wanted to believe. In all honesty, I could write a book discussing how parenting with your eyes closed at all times can benefit your child and someone somewhere on this planet would believe me.

So where is this spreadsheet telling me which child battles are worth fighting?

Currently, I am in the terrible-twos stage with my son. I must say, if this is as “terrible” as it gets, then I’ve got it easy. However, there are times where locking myself in a dark space seems like an amazing idea.

But who would watch the children if I were to lock myself in a closet?…. so I don’t. See that there? Logic.


Here are a few of our most popular daily battles. Hopefully, some of these look familiar to you.

  1. Insisting that we binge watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse until our eyeballs disintegrate.
  2. Playing on the Ipad until we speak a different language (my son likes to watch the “Daddy Finger” songs in all languages other than English – which is the language he speaks.
  3. Eating Yogurt pouches until we puke. Can’t do it.
  4. Sitting in our poopy diaper. I tell my son that he can’t stay in the diaper or else he will develop a diaper rash. He then proceeded to tell me that he wanted the rash.
  5. Sitting in Mommy’s parked car in the garage. He likes to sit in the car and smash buttons and make sound effects as if he is driving the car. For over an hour. As if I don’t have things to do. Getting him out of the car is the struggle and have been some of the biggest tantrums I have ever seen in my life.
  6. Eating foods out of the fridge. I go to put sister in her crib, come back and my son is eating a potato. (Tomato. A stalk of celery. A radish. Packaged Salmon. And the worst best in my opinion – a delicious, raw onion. All have been individual occurrences.) This happens often. “Mmm YUMMY!”, he always says… even if he is gagging.
  7. Taking batteries out of all things containing batteries. This has been a continuous battle since he was born. The child came out of my uterus scavenging for batteries of all size. He doesn’t even do anything with them, he just holds them. I like to think that he has an engineer’s brain. 
  8. Every afternoon we greet sister, after her nap, by singing Happy Birthday to her. I don’t know why, but my son insists. That’s fine by me. The battle starts when my son then blows out the pretend candles all over sister’s now spit-soaked face and turns to me and demands cake. I then tell him we do not have cake. We have now begun an epic battle. SWORDS UP. I shall take no prisoners.

Sometimes when my adorable toddler decides to morph into child terrorist mode I am not prepared for battle. I have no gear. I am unarmed with my sweatpants down around my ankles and an annoyed look plastered on my un-makeuped face. I don’t want to battle you, son. I don’t want to have to say “We can’t watch Mickey anymore. Mickey is taking a nap!” one more freakin’ time. If I were to say that sentence just one more time I am fairly certain that my tongue will stop working and that my frontal lobe, the part of the brain which is said to deal with patience, may shrivel up and fall out of my ass. I will have no more patience. It’s only 9:26 am and all we’ve done is argue over Mickey Mouse.

So yesterday when my son threw his limp body onto the floor demanding the mouse named Mickey, I did nothing more than step over his flailing, screaming body, and silently walk into the other room. I did not assess the situation, I did not kneel down and have a heart to heart with my son about his emotions and what he was feeling, I didn’t spank…. I just kept walking in silence.

As I walked away, I couldn’t help wonder about what damage I had just done to my son.

Will Von do drugs in the ninth grade because I just neglected his emotions?! Did I just mentally scar my son by ignoring his acts of violent rage? Did I just implant a core memory that will stick with him for the rest of his life?!

I’m the worst parent EVER!

See? Choose battles, eh? Every time I choose not to step up to the front line of battle I feel a ping of guilt. Like I have failed at being a mother and that by ignoring this battle I have just created a horrible habit in my son’s behavior. Now he will do it AGAIN all because I ignored him this one time. Every time I choose to not engage in war I feel God’s presence, as if he is saying to me, “Jennifer, my hot-mess redheaded child, go deal with your son. For he is a blessing I have bestowed onto you. Grab your snotty, belligerent blessing up off the floor and deal with this appropriately.”

So I turn around and start making my way back to my blubbering blob of a toddler.

I notice my tongue starts working again. Which is good because I’ll need that in order to speak these threats words of wisdom to my son.

I walk over to my son and calmly deal with the situation at hand. I’ve got to say, he’s the cutest warrior there ever was.

In all seriousness, I do get what choosing your battles means. However, letting the small things go doesn’t come easy for me sometimes. Deciding which battles are worth the fight and which battles I should wave my white flag of surrender for is challenging. That manual would definitely get its fair share of use in my house, but since I have no guide other than my conscious I will continue to do the best I can when it comes to raising my children to be good people.

I will continue to battle over non-existent birthday cake and hope for the best.

– Until the next time this Redhead rambles.


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About Jennifer 79 Articles
I'm Jenn... A blunt, redheaded mommy who likes to look at motherhood in a slightly different way. This blog consists of stories of how I survive my job as a SAHM, a job that I love. I tend to like sarcasm served hot with a fresh side of dry humor. Because who really likes to take life so seriously?

5 Comments on Nobody Told Me That Kids Don’t Come With An Instructions Manual.

  1. I’m dying over #8 and can totally imagine this happening. Especially since we just had “birthday season” over here for all our birthdays. Our oldest sprays everyone! The Manuel/labor trade-off is well worth it, but I’d like a subscription that gets new chapters at each stage….like the Hangry Threenager we have… Will be sharing!

  2. Love this – especially your list of terrible two behaviors. My son’s terrible twos were like a beach vacation compared to my daughter’s terrible twos, threes, fours…….the joke around my house is when sisty sings “happy birthday” to you, she is getting ready to do something terribly painful to you…..we all run when she starts singing.

  3. Again. Except for the onion eating but I do know a kid or two that did the same, I can relate. All the self help books I’ve read in the frantic beginning, named all my situations spot on but never gave me a solution for my kid specifically. Quickly learned this is why YOU are the mother. You have to figure it out. And up your adult every time they out-kid you. No one is the same even when we do/like etc the same things. In my case, I am permanently praying, I have a go-to bestie that slaps-and-point me without making me feel like a failure and I got a huge tattoo, covers the inside of my lower left arm, where I can see it every second of every day. My constant compass to focus not only on the bad but on the good that comes with it too and states the obvious. It says: This too shall pass…

  4. Haha! “Child terrorist”. My husband is Italian and sometime we say “se una piccolo terrorista!” (You are a tiny terrorist!)
    #6 and #8 made me laugh so hard. This will certainly be my daughter. She learned to sign ‘milk’ at 9 months and from then on chose to do it for the duration of every nursing session, and then moved on to actually trying to milk me with her hands – quite uncomfortable I must say.

    Motherhood is a battle in general, which I chose. Even when I’m ready to rip my hair out by 11:00am I still know that I chose wisely. 😉

  5. Love this! We actually had the car battle today! Picked my daughter up from my mom’s and she wants to play in the car then she would *pretend* to climb into the backseat and when I would go to her door to buckle her in, she’s hop back in the front. It was a *lovely* game that ended with me grabbing her and making her get into her carseat (after she played for 30 minutes) while she twisted and arched like some possessed creature. Good times, good times.

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