In conversation with my toddler

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‘Fa-NA! Fa-NA’ he shouts enthusiastically, pointing at the lighthouse in his What Can You See, Spot? book.
‘Kack-Kack!’  he exclaims gleefully whilst pointing to a duck.
‘YES!’ I agree, ‘Yes! Quack-Quack, duck, that’s right, duck!’
Then he looks serious and shouts ‘Shun, SHUN!’ and I continue to beam as he points at the fat yellow sun.
‘Can you see the flowers Zee?’ I  prompt.
‘Fowarr, FOWARR!’  he shouts, his finger jabbing at the image of a light brown squirrel.
‘Nearly darling,’ I assure him, grinning like a fool.

My baby is nearly two. Two? It seems stupid to say that I can’t believe he’s nearly two, because he was born nearly two years ago, and so this is the order of things. The moment of his birth remains as vivid to me as if it had happened this morning; his screaming, his helplessness, his tiny hands and feet. Yet here we are suddenly, two years on.

Now he toddles everywhere, charging around boisterously, bellowing and giggling and exuberant. I am overwhelmed with love for him, it is constant. This brilliant article by Eva Wiseman describes this love as a ‘bruise being pressed, continually, by a strong thumb,’ it’s ‘two centimetres from grief’. Yes. It is entirely so.

And now he is talking more and more and I don’t know why, because again it is meant to be, but when I ask him questions, he answers and I am surprised. I was goldfish-esque at his first stringing-together-of-words, though they weren’t those three words I’d been longing to hear. Not that ‘Done a poo’ isn’t useful information to have, but still. I’m amused when my question is ‘Can I have a hug?’ and he joyfully yells ‘No!’ and scampers away, charging back at me five seconds later. I continue to grin like a fool when he repeats after me ‘I luh Mimmy.’ Now that was a heart-melting moment. I didn’t cry I didn’t cry.

I cried a little bit.

Then of course there are the moments when H and I look helplessly at each other as he lies prostrate on the floor, screaming, really screaming, beating his fists and turning purple because I won’t let him scoop crisps from the bin. Our looks of helplessness are borne of astonishment, coupled with trying not to laugh at the lunacy of it all. I recently read a description of a toddler as ‘an emotionally unstable, mini dictator.’ And as we gaze at him raging on the floor, oh how these words ring true.

But then there are those priceless moments we share, when he does something so utterly lovely that we can’t help but catch each other’s eye. We grin as he clasps his little hand in mine to help him up the stairs, babbling earnestly ‘Bear, guin, tac, Mimmy, bear, guin, tac, guin Mimmy, GUIN!’  For it is nap time, and he likes to be in the company of his chosen three bears; Cat, Penguin and, erm, Bear.

We were told each stage gets better and better. As two approaches, with his new words, expressions, games and his gorgeous, tumbling curls growing by the day, I can see how.

Though when it comes to these tantrums, I’m employing the practise of breathing very deeply. And repeating ‘This too shall pass’, which has also proved handy these past exhausting, blissful, wondrous, sleep-deprived, happy, hopelessly-in-love filled almost 24 months.

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