Parenting is hard, parenting toddlers takes patience. It’s the best combination of exhaustion and reward that I’ve ever come across. There are days when my husband comes home and I simply cannot form another sentence. I just cannot engage in another conversation, discussion, debate, or negotiate another toy hostage situation. Baby boo is 19.5 months and is stuck right in that tricky phase – I cannot find the words to get my point across so I will stand here and squeal in the most ear piercing tone. It’s tough she has all these big ideas and wishes and she just doesn’t know how to get her point across the same way we would. I imagine it’s like being in a foreign country and you don’t speak the language, it must be tiring for them, and oh so frustrating. So even though those high pitched squeals make me clench my teeth, I can only empathise with her and try to help make our lives all a little easier. I can show her, I can teach her, I can role model it for her and I will watch her soak it up and grow.
8:30am – Baby boo tries to steal big brothers dinosaur map, she’s squealing and trying to make a break for it, he’s chasing her telling her not to rip it. Some simple calm words help diffuse the situation.
“you really want the picture, Its J-man’s. He’s worried you might break it. I’m going to help you give it back to him safely”
8:45am – SQUEALING!!!! It’s the type of squeal that signifies something sacred has been taken! Big bro is exacting his revenge. He’s acquired Baby boo’s paper roll trumpet and is triumphantly attempting to play it as he makes his escape.
“you were using the tube, J-man forgot to ask you if he could have a turn. J-man you have the tube, Baby boo is asking for it back.”
Victory. Peace is restored the tube (trumpet) has been returned. Toddler wanders off happy and content.
9:10am – Crying, the sad big tears of a toddler who’s been excluded from the big kids toy room. The big kids have told her they need space to play and have closed the gate on their safe space so Baby boo cannot destroy their towers.
“they shut the gate on you”
“you’re feeling sad that they shut the gate?”
“do you need a cuddle?”
9:30am – Loud screaming and banging coming from the kitchen. I think to myself please not the fridge argument again. (Baby boo is obsessed with the fridge. Opening, closing and continually selecting foods from it.) I pause, take a breath and step into the kitchen.
“you want something from the freezer?”
*stops screaming, and bangs on the freezer door*
*I open the freezer door, and she starts yelling again pointing and flapping her arms around*
*scrolling through my mind….what does she want, why the freezer?…ahhh*
“you want an ice cream? There isn’t any left”
*shows her big sad pout*
“here I’ll pick you up, see there isn’t any more. I know you really wanted an ice cream. We will have to make some more another time”
*happy with the conclusion she indicates to be put down and off she toddles*
9:40am – Happiness short lived. Sad lost looking toddler comes in to sit with me.
“you’re feeling a bit lost hey? Do you need some help to find something to play with?”
*baby boo reaches out indicating she wants to lead me somewhere. She leads me out to the big kids toy room and stands at the gate pointing into them.*
“you want some of the toys the big kids have?”
“ok we will pick some out. Do you want some cars? What about some people?”
*baby boo sits down in her own play space and happily begins playing.*
10:30am – Screams are heard and loud banging on the front door not long after I had told Baby boo that we would be going shopping soon.
“you want to play outside?”
*open door, baby boo wanders out and climbs into the pram*
“ahh you want to go for a walk do you? We can’t go for a walk now. We need to get ready to go to the grocery store.”
*cries, starts kicking legs in anger*
“I know you love going walking. We are going shopping now. You will get to sit in the trolley, which is like the pram.”
*kicks legs and squeals*
“I can see you’re having a hard time. I’m going to pick you up now. I know you really love the pram.”
*she’s gone quiet *
“we will go get you dressed now. You need a nappy on to go to the shops.”
*we head inside to the change table*
“I’m going to lay you down now. I’m going to put the nappy on you, can you lift your legs please?”
The situation is diffused and we continued on getting dressed. I ensured that I slowed right down and used the time to reconnect and have some one on one time before we headed out for the day.
These scenarios and some different ones are played out over and over again throughout the day, and each time we meet them with calmness and empathy is one more opportunity that our toddler has to see these awesome skills in play. Of course there are moments when we forgot to pause, when we forget to meet them with kindness. We are human, mistakes are made to be learned from. So apologise, reflect on the moment, make a mental note on what to do differently next time, file away what you learnt and move on. They are learning what they live.