Right. Emmm, help? Actually we’re grand. We’re just a little bit trapped. We can’t go many places. Or, anywhere, in fact.
You know when the baby is tiny and you’re out and about and you’re terrified they might waken and scream and that’s why you sit in a restaurant or cafe with your friend over a cup of tea “enjoying” your maternity leave, when really you’re as tense as an electric fence? Well that ain’t no tension.
Tension is bringing your 19 month old to a restaurant. Do you know how long we lasted in the last proper restaurant we went to? Seven minutes. Long enough to scan the menus, look over desperately three times at the waiting staff – why are they taking so long – to take note of the people around us – most have kids, this could be ok, then back to our toddler who was hanging in a headlock from her Daddy’s arm. Doing that whine scream. You know, when she just wants to get away and is not actually hurt?
I looked at him, he looked at me, and said, “What are you thinking?” I told him I couldn’t do it. That it wasn’t worth it. That there were alternatives. And so to my delight, and no doubt, everyone else around us, we left, drove off and hotfooted it to Supermac’s.
That was our posh Sunday lunch out. Toddler life.
A lot has happened in the past month. She has changed and developed in so many tiny, subtle and very obvious ways. Her speech for one thing has come on hugely. I think it’s driven by her one day a week at our lovely childminders – she seems to come home with more gabbly words that make sense. ‘All gone’ has been in the repertoire for a long time now. She’s since added ‘cheese’ for ‘please’ and she says it while standing looking up you when you open the door to the biscuit press. She also says a word that sound like ‘juice’ while holding her bottle staring at the fridge and of course, as already reported, the word ‘goal’ for any round object that resembles a football. I realised this week that she probably has a lot more words, it’s just we can’t make them out, mostly because it’s gabble and also because she has a soother stuck in her mouth.
We had a bit of call the ambulance / mother (the real mother, my mother) incident last weekend when we heard a massive thud and scream from her bedroom. It was 8am and when I rushed to her room – possibly the fastest I’ve ever gotten there, she was lying flat on her bad, lifting her head up and absolutely roaring.
She’d tumbled right from her cot, having balanced precariously and flipped herself over on the way down. We were shocked and I had to hold her for a long time to calm her down from her own shock.
We’re faced with a problem now. She’s far too young to go into a bed, even a cot bed and if we do so, we can say goodbye to the more regular sleep we’ve been getting. She’d be in on top of us, anytime she so much as woke up and thought ‘I’m freeeee’. I realised after the cot catastrophe that there’s a great sense of calm knowing she’s in her bed and can’t escape. That’s gone now.
I phoned my Mam in distress who later called back with a brainwave.
Shove a lilo under the bed she said and pull it out when she’s going to sleep. I knew she was my Mam for a reason. So we’re just waiting for Dealz to get their summer stock in and problem sorted. And in the meantime, as soon as I hear a sniff of her awake, I’m scooping her up and taking her out of the cot in the vain hope that she won’t remember how she climbed and fell before in the first place.
So speech is coming on, agility and what’s that other thing I was thinking of? Oh yes. TANTRUMS! It seems we are raising a brat. These outbursts have been growing in puff, screech level and frustration (on both parts) for some time now but we’re still at the stage, where I find them quite funny. I can’t help but laugh as she loses her shit over not being able to reach something, be given something straightaway, get down, or be released from whatever chair she is strapped into.
And then after laughing, I feel dreadfully sorry for her. Look at her, I think. She’s so tiny. She can’t reach. She can’t tell us what she wants. It must be awful. And then I give in and immediately fetch her what she wants or feed her biscuits.
The biscuits. The chocolate. The crap. I’m a bit worried about the sugar I’ve been feeding her. I do give her fruit and distract her with boxes of raisins but it doesn’t hide the fact that her once wonderful diet has gone out the window.
She refuses to eat a lot of meals now. Breakfast and supper don’t really happen. She’ll graze on some of the things we give her during the day but maybe not, depending on her mood. She’ll usually make an attempt at dinner, but the other day I gave her some oven chips (I know not good either) and she flung every single one on the ground. I thought, what the hell can I feed you now? How do you not like chips?!
Of course, then she makes a liar of me and arrives at her Nana’s to devour everything put in front of her; bread, soup, sausages, anything made of carbs. ‘Do you not feed the child?’ is the general atmosphere in the room. And the answer is, yes, I feed her but at 19 months, she decides what goes in and what gets grinded onto the floor.
The house continues to resemble an open dump. Stinky. Full of caked, stale food. Debris strewn across surfaces, concentrated around
toy boxes. How I laugh at how I used to think it was difficult to keep the house clean, the days when she wasn’t even mobile. The only way to survive is to sink into a see no evil monkey face. Just don’t look at it anymore. Poke around it, shake out a few blankets and sweep the floor if you must. It might help you feel better. But the battle is already lost.
If you do come to visit you will be treated to the newest update to the kitchen. It’s called ‘the bench seat’ and we made it by strapping two kitchen chairs to each other with duct tape. This was a necessary action after she carried the chair over to the worktop and stuck a knive in the toaster. So now, each side of the table sports a ‘bench seat’ and she can’t really move them at all, except to get over to the central heating buttons which she finds much pleasure in turning on and off.
On a recent accidental buggyless trip to town, himself bought her two tubs of play-doh. She grabbed at them in the queue for Argos and just like sugary snacks, if it keeps her quiet, she gets it. Well… it has changed our world. In little 20 minute stints at a time. I even got to make the dinner one day, all the while she chopped and squashed and licked at the play-doh.
Last week I was parenting alone and although I didn’t worry about it beforehand, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed all the extra time I had with her. (Jeez Mammy of the Year award – mother shocked after actually enjoying hanging out with kid). It was all very relaxed and we spent a lot of the time running around the house screaming. Just because we could.
So things are good. A bit chaotic and messy. A bit too much sugar here and there. And a restaurant ban. Buy hey there are upsides. If she can ‘whine scream’ then I can ‘wine scream’ too. And I do, everynight, as soon as she’s in bed. I’ve discovered that being a Mum to a toddler gives you an automatic right to begin drinking heavily at night. And nobody seems to mind. Well at least I don’t.