“Mama, no! Arse! Eye!” – Life with an 18 month old
Living with an active toddler is both totally awesome, and a constant energy drain. As an 18 month old, he’s fully mobile and becoming more verbal by the minute. Some days I feel sad that he’s no longer my little baby, but there’s no denying that he’s non-stop entertainment from sunrise to sunset. I’m lucky that I get to see what antics he gets up to each day. It’s just unfortunate that we have such differing ideas of what’s an appropriate time to get up in the morning when there hasn’t been much sleep the night before.
Our days start somewhere after 6.00 am when all should be quiet. A watery sun struggles to break through the clouds outside. It’s just bright enough to raise the light levels in the room beyond what Rascal considers as ‘night’. He stirs. Zombie-like, he rises up to sit. No hint of intelligence in his eyes yet. I lie still, pretending in vain to be asleep as his eyes slowly focus on me and his brain shifts straight to ‘full power’. He makes his way over and pokes me in the face. “Eye!”, he announces to the world. Swiftly followed by “Nose”, “Ear” and various other body parts. Having established that these basic facts are still true today, he babbles contentedly and clambers all over me to signal that there is absolutely no way in hell that it’s bedtime anymore. A few more purposeful digs and head butts connect in painful places. I give in and drag myself out of bed. We begin the first game of the day where I try and herd him into the bathroom before he does his morning power pee – which is likely to blast through both of the nappies he wears at night. If I’m very unlucky, then he’s already soaking wet.
Once he’s out of his pajamas and mostly into clothes, we try to kill time quietly until a more respectable hour. At that point I let him loose and he takes off to find Daaaaaddddy, who gets the 7.30 to 8.30am shift before work. I’ll debate getting dressed and joining them, but inevitably opt to bank some sleep instead. In my own bed, all on my lonesome… heaven! It’s the one time of day when I’m officially off-duty and will not automatically wake and start moving towards the source of any cries.
An hour later it’s time to face the day (again). Our daily conversations generally go like this – I ask any question at all and get the standard response “Nooooooooooooo!”. Thus I spend much of my day perfecting the subtle arts of distraction, manipulation, and tantrum-avoidance. I’ve had to up my game a lot lately when it comes to figuring out how to get things done when he’s not feeling cooperative.
Rascal has refused to wear hats of any type since he became coordinated enough to remove them. We managed without a wooly hat during the winter, but this was rapidly becoming a problem as the summer sun started to appear. How to solve the hat-refusal problem? Manipulation 101. Simply flatter the poor child. And it worked brilliantly.
Me: “Look at this lovely hat! Let’s put it on to keep the sun out of your eyes!”
Rascal yanks the hat off his head repeatedly as usual, looking furious at the indignity of it all. I quickly ram it back on his head and run into the bedroom.
Me: “Let’s look at the baby in the mirror, will we? Oh WOW! Look at you in your BEAUTIFUL hat! Don’t you look great?”
Rascal pauses in his attempt to remove the hat, struts his stuff in front of the mirror for a few minutes while I continue to bombard him with admiration. He suddenly decides that hats are, in fact, cool. He shrieks at himself and laughs like a deranged lunatic. I happily count it as a win.
Time for us to get ready to go out.
Me: “I’m going upstairs now to brush my teeth. Would you like to come with me?”
Rascal: (not even looking up from his toy cars) “Noooooo! Bye!”
Every interaction involved in getting him out the door meets with resistance unless I utter the magic words… “We’re going to go in the car and meet some babies!”. “Baaaabiieess!!!!”, he exclaims, and makes a beeline for the front door. This doesn’t end well unless I’m all ready to walk out the door immediately after making such a promise. He will probably mostly ignore any babies we visit, but he knows that other babies have toys. Getting to play with new toys is one of his top priorities.
We have a system worked out for grocery shops. He spends the trip trying to climb out of the trolley and knock things off shelves. I bribe him with coupons and loyalty cards that he waves about importantly until we have to pay. We make a dash for the car before the parking meter runs out. He eyes up elderly people as we pass by and searches for one that appears excessively chatty. Just as we move past them he shouts out “Hi!” loud enough for even deaf ears to clearly hear. They inevitably respond with a comment and a question or two. Rascal busies himself rifling through the shopping bags while I deal with the long-winded conversation that follows.
We finally get home and it’s now too late for him to want to eat a snack before his nap. In fact his only response to any suggestions of food is an impression of snoring. But there will only be a nap if there is milk on offer first. That’s non-negotiable. Pity the fool that tries to skip the milk. They totally deserve the kind of afternoon that follows.
Post-nap snack. All he wants to eat is plain rice cakes. He starts dunking his rice cake into his cup of water before eating it. Where on earth did he get that one from? I still don’t know.
He wanders into the sitting room to peruse some books. For once, he doesn’t require an adult to read each of the fifty or so books to him. Oh thank god. The kitchen is begging for a clean. Soon I hear shouts of “Mama? Noooooooooo!”. Nope, he’s not in danger, or requesting my presence. There’s a cute little story book he loves about a baby tiger cub who is searching for his Mama. “Are you my Mama?”, he asks various animals and they say “No!” before he finally finds his Mama and gets lots of cuddles. Apparently the conversation on each page can be condensed down to two words without detracting from the narrative.
If he runs out of books then he demands his “Yoya!”. That means it’s time to drag out the yoga mats and put on a routine. He does an impressive downward dog, but that’s not the fun part of yoga. He waits until I’m lying vulnerable on the floor, then jumps aboard to bounce up and down on my stomach or leg just as I’m desperately trying to keep my balance in a pose. “Yoya!”, he squeals in delight. “Unngh!”, I agree.
Time for a nappy change and there’s a bit of a pong. “Who’s got a stinky arse?”, I comment, without thinking it through. “Arrrrse!”, he replies with relish. “Arrrse! Arrrse!” Whoops! I do what any good parent would do. I whip out my phone and record him chanting it on repeat for Daddy to hear later. I have the nasty feeling that this is one of those things that’s going to come back and haunt me next time we’re in ‘polite company’. Time for bed before I accidentally teach him anything else. I brace myself for what could be a 2+ hour ordeal.
What amusing things does your toddler do?