Every parent of a Tiddler is growing a Toddler.
Delightful as Tiddlerdom may be, Toddlerdom is something that Tiddler parents look forward to, with thoughts that go a bit like this:
One day, you’ll be able to tell me what you want, instead of screaming maniacally while I try and figure it out. There’ll be none of that indecision about whether to offer you boob or check your nappy or move you into different positions to get a burp out or change your clothes or rock you to sleep.
Yes! One day they’ll tell you why they’re crying. They will! But what you don’t realise is, that ‘what they want’ won’t be something you can give them.
It will be to stay awake, when they’re so tired they can’t even talk without crying.
To ‘take shoes off’ and walk in the snow.
To ‘go that way!’ when the bus driver is following a route that goes the other.
It will be followed by a tantrum so violent and public that nostalgia will soon set in for a time when you could entertain a slither of hope that just jiggling them until they burped might actually solve something.
One day, you’ll be able to walk for yourself.
Oh yes, they will. But de-per-ate-ly slowly, unless it’s in the direction of something dangerous, when they go like greased lightening.
And you’ll learn to dress yourself, too!
Indeed, they’ll insist upon it. Whenever you are in a hurry. In whatever is the most inappropraite thing to wear. Dear Lord, as the prayer goes, Give me Patience. But PLEASE, give me bloody patience QUICKLY!
There is good news, however. For anybody who gets embarrassed when the adults get in a circle to sing something about dingling dangling scarecrows at the end of babygroup: this experience does improve. One day, the babies start to pay attention; another day, they join in. When they do, nobody is more pleased than those of us who can’t hold a tune.
But that very day, they start to tell you off for getting the words wrong and – worse – they develop a Favourite. Which they like to sing a LOT.
Toddler’s new favourite is the alphabet. When I smugly taught her A to Zee, it was probably only because I didn’t realise how annoying the alphabet, on loop, with the middle bit a little bit fudgey still, can be.
We have real arguments these days.
‘It’s Sleepytime, Toddler.’
‘No Mummy! It’s WAKEY time! Sun shining!’
Someone saying the exact opposite of your opinion sounds easy to cope with, but there are limits. Let alone when that someone could poo at any time – a moving little feacal cluster bomb – but always denies needing to go when asked.
I was going to end this article by saying don’t worry: they grow up eventually. In fact once they turn three, there are only fifteen years left to go before you get your brain-cell back.
But my friend read it and said I make it sound as though I don’t like my children.
So I best make sure that you know: – I have all the gooey feelings towards Tiddler and Toddler all the time; feelings that make you feel nicer than a person in a perfect warm bath. I even tell them so. If I don’t shout about such feelings very much to you, it’s because they are emcompassed by somewhat plastic words such as ‘love’ and, coming from my cynical, blogging gob at least, words like that sound like icing with too much sugar.
I just hope that the fact that I love my child is something that I can assume you’ll take for granted when I talk about the stress that can be induced by parenting.
Because I am a great believer that being stressed by one’s children is as normal as loving them; that the ‘perfect, selfless parent’ stereotype is a difficult one to live up to and that the more that people talk about the imperfect bits (hopefully without whining too much), then the less alienated other imperfect parents will feel. So here it is: Toddlers are difficult, okay?
But there are good things about Todder parenthood, too. Toddlers are cute. Excuse me for such willful use of the c- word, but there is no better word to describe watching a child Toddle for the first time. And then…. they grow….
If it wasn’t for Toddler, how else would I have noticed that the knot-holes on our table look like a set of eyes and a nose? Spent an hour in the garden building sandcastles and another hour digging up worms? Would my life really be complete had I not become proficient in the ‘Swashbuckle Cheer?’ (Arrrrrrr!)
There is inner peace to be found in finally accepting that you will never understand about the shifting size of the Ninky-Nonk on Night-Garden. Something delightful about knowing whole books of Julia Donaldson’s off by heart. A real satisfaction in teaching someone else to be an open, intelligent sort of person….
Toddler already shares my interest in gender roles, which is interesting.
‘Mummy! Why Mummy wears pretty pants and Daddy wears plain pants?’
Mummy! I saw a man in a dress!’
‘Don’t worry Tiddler. You grow boobs when you bigger.’
And, on a rare occasion when I was about to leave the house with heels on:-
‘Mummy! Look at your shoes. I think maybe a Lady gave them to you.’
At times like these, I am thankful that I have another fifteen years before sending Toddler off into the world.
I’m almost certainly going to need them.
(other images www.guildfordbaptist.org (hands), http://www.pinterest.com/ParentingSmarts/toddler-independence/ (toddler dressing), http://o5.com/what-to-do-when-your-toddler-screams/ (toddler screaming) )