I think I may have said this a couple of times in the past, but it really is time to re-title this blog. At nearly 18 months old (18 months no way how did that happen etc etc) our walking, kind-of-talking, running, spinning, singing, dancing toddler really isn’t a baby anymore. In fact, we’re hurtling headlong towards the period the baby (sorry, toddler) books all call the “terrible twos”, which I’m told are cruelly misnamed because they start at age one and end at age four; and although we’re not in full-blown tantrum territory yet our increasingly big girl has developed a number of ways to tell us she wants to do things her own way.
Sometimes, this takes the form of a brief protest. Scarlett has, like virtually every toddler I’ve ever met, a habit of selecting the most dangerous object in the room as the only one she wants to play with and/or eat, so life is currently a glorious circus of removing the sharp/inhalable/poisonous object from her grasp before she slices/chokes/poisons herself on it, and the action of removing said object might meet a short, sharp rebuke. Generally, so far, this has taken the form of a small amount of shouting and the odd tear, and can be headed off at the pass by trading the kitchen scissors/loose button/bottle of bleach for a more appropriate plaything, but we’re battening the hatches for the day this might escalate into a more serious fight.
Our biggest disagreement to date has been over a packet of Wotsits purloined from the shelves at Sainsburys that Mummy was unable to put back discreetly enough before the checkout; this led to a short standoff that was finally resolved with the application of some nearby bubbles. My toddler-owning pro-tip is therefore: always carry bubbles.
Growing independence has its upsides, too, and it’s great to see Scarlett exercising greater choice over what she wants to do, eat and wear. Young babies are, by their very nature, somewhat passive participants in daily life. They sit where you put them, go where you push them in the buggy, see what you point them towards and play with things you hand them. Nowadays Scarlett will dig out the toy she wants to play with, hand us the clothes she wants to wear (in some very fetching combinations that I wouldn’t have thought of myself) and pointedly hand us a book or the TV remote while waving her Peppa Pig toy to indicate her viewing preference. It’s getting easier day by day to understand what she wants and – most of the time – accommodate her preferences as long as it’s not Wotsits for dinner or to find out what happens if we pour tea on Mummy’s laptop.
In parallel with her desire to do and choose things herself, Scarlett’s communication skills have been surging forwards in leaps and bounds. She can tell us which story or song she wants by signing (“the one with the pig and the bunny” is Peppa Meets The Queen and “the one with the butterfly and the crocodile” is this song) and she can tell us about the world around her (“the duck is in the bath!”) which makes us all feel good. Alongside that, we’re getting some words; she’s been able to say “bear” for months but now she can tell us the bear is blue (well, “boo”, but consistently and with the right sign), and she can say the word “more” increasingly clearly. Hm, that’s a real toddler word, isn’t it?
There are hills and mountains to go with this, and a natural desire for self-assertion will ebb and flow against an equally natural wish to be looked after long, long into the future (for about four decades if my own experience is anything to go by). Part of me feels a small, slight pang of wistfulness that my little girl is growing up and doesn’t need me as much as she used to, but a bigger part of me is proud of that and will go on being so for years to come.
YOU HEAR ME, FUTURE SELF? YEARS. TO. COME.