Do toddlers dream of electric sheep? – Life with a 21 month old
The months are flying past now and we’ll have a 2 year old before we know it. We’re so busy with day to day life that it’s hard to remember to take stock of all the things that are happening so quickly in our toddler’s little world. A year from now and I’ll really struggle to remember what new developments made each month a completely different adventure from the last. Most notably, speech is still rapidly developing. Week by week, day by day, I’m constantly amazed at the things he’s coming out with. Our days are all go, our nights are tumultuous affairs. One thing’s for sure, there are lots of interesting moments to keep track of with this 21 month old.
I’m in the kitchen trying to get lunch ready when I hear shouts of ‘potty’ and ‘poop’ coming from the sitting room. I go in to find the Rascal frantically dragging his potty around and gesticulating wildly. We remove a few layers of clothing, he plonks himself down and does his business without much ado. We sit there for a few minutes, face to face, while he has a think about whether he’s ‘all done’ or not. Then he starts looking at me strangely, cocking his head to one side. He stares deep into my eyes. “That’s nice”, I think, “we’re having a moment!”. Then he clearly announces “Hi baby!” and keeps repeating it as he stares intently at me, but a little off to one side. Turns out we’re not having a moment. He’s having a moment – with himself. He’s spotted his reflection in my eyes and is fascinated by it.
I’m unloading shopping bags full of groceries into the car boot as a lady gets out of the car that is parked beside us. “Isn’t it lovely”, she comments, “to see them so happy and in good form?”. “Um, yes”, I agree, wondering if she bore witness to the dramatic toddler tantrum during last week’s shopping excursion. Then I turn back around to find the Rascal has taken advantage of the distraction. He’s climbed up and is standing on the trolley seat, midway through a complicated piece of gymnastics designed to result in getting quickly to the ground (probably with a split head). No wonder he looks happy, he’s up to no good! If that’s this lady’s idea of good form then I dread to think what a troublesome toddler would be doing!
My days are a never-ending cycle of “Look, a bird!”, “Look, a truck!”, “Look, a car!” on endless repeat. There’s a running commentary on every single object he notices, no matter how mundane or ordinary. “What’s that?”, or “Who’s that?” are a close second as he tries to add more words to his collection. He repeats each new word he’s told carefully, pondering perhaps whether it’s an appropriate one or not. He has finally mastered the use of his name and is working through the whole concept of mine, yours, Mammy’s, Daddy’s, baby’s etc etc. It’s absolutely fascinating seeing him piece togethers all these words and concepts, building slowly towards full conversations. It’s also quite wearisome – if he’s not physically rushing about, he’s firing comments and questions at me until my head begins to spin.
One concept I could do without is the notion that things that disappear are gone. In particular, feet. The current bane of our morning and evening routines. Some days there is major panic when his feet disappear into socks or sleep suit. “Where feet?”, he roars in terror. No matter how many discussions we have about how his feet are still there, or how often I let him feel them through clothing, the idea of them being covered up is still a scary one to the Rascal.
And then there’s the dreams… The ones that have him panicking in the middle of the night. I race in to rescue a hysterical toddler from whatever horror is tormenting him, only to find him sitting there, wiping at his chest saying “Wet, all wet!” He’ll be dreaming of hours ago when he spilt a cup of water all over himself. Sometimes it’s less clear what the problem is and the waking and wailing continues in fits and starts through the night.
But it’s not all chaos and life on fast-forward. There are parks and playgrounds to explore. There are new messes to make at home. If we’ve got some time to kill while dinner cooks in the oven, I start up the ‘dance’ playlist on my phone. Myself and the Rascal will have our own little dance-off in the sitting room. I’ll miss these days when he actually perceives his Mammy as being cool and fun to be around.