And Now An Important Message About Acute Toddler Syndrome

12 Nov

I want to take this opportunity to apologize to anyone I’ve offended recently with strange outbursts, unusual behavior, and / or anti-social kick-boxing moves.

It’s not my fault, but I’m sorry anyway.

Like millions of other Americans, I am suffering from ATS.

I was only recently (self) diagnosed with this horrible, horrible ailment.

What is ATS, you ask? How long do I have, you worry? Is it contagious, you demand to know?

ATS is Acute Toddler Syndrome.

No, it is not a disorder suffered by people with a cute toddler. If anything, ATS is ugly. Very ugly.

It is only communicable between sexual partners, sperm bank customers and sperm bank products, and unethical fertility doctors and desperate, unaware patients. So unless you’re engaging in activities with me that could result in pregnancy, you aren’t gonna catch it (from me, anyway).

Did I just hear all my male readers sigh with relief? Fine. But all the female readers too? That kinda hurts, ladies.

ATS is rarely fatal, though it can destroy lives, friendships, and tank careers. ATS only lasts about two or three years once symptoms manifest, unless you go on to have more children, which starts the cycle all over again.

The incubation time for ATS is about three years. It starts with pregnancy and grows, slowly and undetected, in a parent’s psyche until said parent’s kid (or kids) become toddlers.

At this point, ATS strikes, and it is devastating.

What are the symptoms of this fearful illness?

Imagine you are a father of toddlers. They are at that stage where they’re imitating everything they see and hear. Loudly and with gusto and over and over and over again in front of teachers, grandparents, pediatricians, and randomly encountered law enforcement officers. This, naturally, forces you to watch your language, constrain your HBO viewing to late night, and moderate your behavior.

Normally not a big deal.

Imagine now that you work in a professional environment, where for a large portion of your day, you are not around toddlers, but due to strict HR policies, you also have to watch your language, constrain your HBO pirate stream viewing, and moderate your behavior in order to avoid unpleasant…consequences.

Hey, you say, people do that all the time. Still not a big deal.

Well screw you, clearly-not-a-parent-of-a-toddler. Because toddlers also wear you out when you get home from work, and don’t like to sleep through the night, so you find yourself sleep-deprived, exhausted when you aren’t trying to sleep, and dreaming you’re exhausted in the brief moments you do sleep.

Even worse, you can’t loosen the belt a few notches, as it were, when you do get home from work so you can just be yourself. Do you have any idea how uncomfortable a belt notched appropriately for work is? Do you??

It’s really uncomfortable. Leg-numbing, waist-bruising uncomfortable. People should be able to loosen their belt when they get home. It’s common decency.

How is this a severe disorder, you ask?

Hold your horses, I haven’t gotten to the damn symptoms yet.

Unable to stand the rigid constraints on language and behavior any more, the ATS sufferer starts to act out in inappropriate ways when not around the toddlers, ways he or she absolutely cannot act when the toddlers are present.

What happens is, suddenly finding oneself in the presence of adults, with no children around to ‘cramp your style’, the ATS sufferer realizes that they can say and do anything without the consequence of their kids seeing or repeating it. This outweighs all other factors, including non-child related consequences.

It’s a lot like some freshman at college, who, suddenly overwhelmed by the onset of total freedom and distant parents, go a little crazy, drink too much, and end up on academic probation (or expelled).

Yes, ATS is freshman-year-at-college ugly.

Frighteningly loud and excessive use of profanity is common when in the throes of ATS. For example, at church, daddy might let a few coarse ones loose while mommy is outside trying to hush the wailing kid. Almost always during the pauses in the homily.

Or in the Starbucks coming home from work, when daddy learns they’re out of his favorite all natural sugar substitute.They charge six bucks for an effin’ coffee, they can damn well keep the effin’ Truvia in stock!

Or when daddy is in the laxative aisle of the drug store and can’t find my his favorite brand of suppositories. You know the brand I’m he’s talking about, the small ones that slip in more easily. Not those horse-sized Preparation H monsters.

I’m not saying these have happened to me, just that they are examples of things that can happen.

So the next time someone says, “Hey, whore, how’s it hanging?” or tries to lick your neck after bumping into you in the laxative aisle at Walmart, or starts dancing the macarena at a country line dancing event in a biker bar as a prelude to a strip tease, before you get offended, ask yourself, “Is this person a daddy of toddlers?” If he is, be nice, put the broken beer bottle down, and cut him some slack.

And just to reiterate, I’m not saying these are things I’ve done, they’re just examples of things that could happen. To anyone.

One last note. Please don’t confuse Acute Toddler Syndrome with Chronic Toddler Syndrome. While having the same symptoms as ATS, CTS is a long-term form of the disorder, only occurring in people who prolong their exposure to toddlers (e.g., employees at orphanages with high turnover, the Duggars, and pre-school teachers), and therefore, since they chose to suffer from this disease, they don’t deserve your sympathy.

In fact, those people need to learn not to get drunk and proposition their mother-in-law at her 50th anniversary party. That’s crossing a line, dammit!

(Again, hypothetical!)

And now, a word from our sponsor: me!

Marlowe and the SpacewomanClick here to check out my forthcoming book, Marlowe and the Spacewoman, coming out January 9th, 2012 (Balloon Ascension Day)!


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6 responses to “And Now An Important Message About Acute Toddler Syndrome

  1. Flossy

    12 November 2011 at 10:04 pm

    I have acute six-year-old syndrome…

  2. ianmdudley

    12 November 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Then you can tell me…is there an end to the madness? Does it get better? Or does it, God help me, get worse? 😉

  3. Flossy

    12 November 2011 at 10:50 pm

    For fear of starting a riot, I am choosing to remain silent 😉

    • ianmdudley

      13 November 2011 at 11:16 am

      If only the toddlers would do the same.   *sigh* 


  4. Marjorie Dudley

    13 November 2011 at 10:32 am

    So, do I have ATS or CTS? I do have prolonged exposure since I am a stay at home mom and there are two of them?

    And I do not have a “Man Cave”.

    • ianmdudley

      13 November 2011 at 11:14 am

      Definitely ATS. I know it *feels* like prolonged exposure to you, especially with all the sleep deprivation and screaming wrestling matches, but they’ve been toddlers for less than a year at this point. We are maybe getting sorta close to the nearly kinda halfway point with this batch.   By the way, I don’t care if it isn’t fair of me to wrestle with them, I’m still gonna scream when I lose. They cheat and pull my hair! 

      And I refuse to put a “Woman Cave” in our backyard. The ones in the catalog are too damn pink for my tastes.   


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