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Getting My Toddler Ready Is Like Being Mad Max in the Thunderdome

The apocalypse could definitely start with a philosophical debate over who gets to put on the socks.

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Mad Max: Fury Clothes. It’s 7am and the countdown clock in my head is ticking. I have 45 minutes to ensure my two kids are properly clothed, fed, and legally strapped into my car before we set off on a harrowing race across town in Nashville’s ever-growing rush hour traffic. My 4-year-old son is the morning routine champion: clothed and full-stomached before I can even get a sip of coffee. Who am I kidding? I can’t even sip my coffee until we’re in the car — it takes too long.

My 2-year-old daughter is a different story. Stubborn, willful, and independent since birth, Rona has yet to meet a hill she won’t die on. On most mornings, I find myself staring down an obstinate villain, set on a mission of independence or world domination — whichever comes first.

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The post-apocalyptic Mel Gibson Mad Max classic, The Road Warrior, comes to mind as I climb the stairs to wake my daughter and help her get ready for the day. Once she’s up and out of the crib, the determination to not get dressed sets in. I move to put the shirt over her head. With a perfectly disastrous combination of limited motor skills and limitless will, my daughter in a low but stern tone, says to me, “Just walk away.”

“Rona, do you need help with putting on your shirt?”

“Just walk away.”

“Rona, I can help you with your shoes.”

“Just walk away.”

I’m just waiting for her to tell me that if I just walk away, she’ll spare my life. And I’m pretty sure that if I don’t walk away, the unholy terror of a tantrum she will unleash will be my own personal Armageddon.  

I wanted kids who would think for themselves, but I was thinking more the “steal a snack from the pantry” types, not the “whine in your face till you cave in” kind. I took great pride in my independence as a kid, and I love that Rona has that drive to do for herself — but her mind is just so far ahead of her motor skills. I mean, damn, girl, pick up the pace! We got places to go, nonsensical conversations to have, Frozen songs to listen to on repeat. 

It’s annoying when your parenting aspirations butt up against two immovable objects: the concept of time and a 2-year-old. You raise your kids in hopes of them becoming independent beings, but when time is of the essence, you want speed over sovereignty, action over autonomy, and — above all else — not a philosophical debate with a toddler as to who gets to put on the socks.

But I’m not in charge here. I can only shrug my shoulders and enjoy my time in the Thunderdome.

Christian Henderson is a Nashvillian nerd of many types – comic books, sports, and music. He works hard every day to help both his kids become well-rounded dorks.