It has become apparent that we have reached a new point, a milestone, made a new transition. We now have a toddler. The Oxford Dictionary defines this as “a child who is beginning to walk”. Well, we have smashed that, one week of intensive practice and she is flying up and down the hall with skill. Ok, she is also covered in bruises, but with toddling comes risk. And walls.
A few days ago, I was meandering around Waitrose and I witnessed this transition clearly, at the checkout. On one side of me stood a couple, with a tiny baby peacefully snoozing in the car-seat-on-wheels, both in casual clothes, both looked pale and dumbstruck. In their trolley they had a textbook shopping list – Steak, prawns, brie, pate, wine, stout, spinach, nappies. They may as well have walked into the supermarket and said “we’ll have one of your ‘we’ve just had a baby’ hampers, thanks”. I know this as we did exactly the same. I don’t even like brie or prawns.
Meanwhile, on the other side of me stood a Mum, with a toddler in the trolley seat and a 5 or 6-year-old boy standing by. The toddler was going completely bonkers. Meltdown time. The other child said “Mum, this is SO embarrassing”. I was cringing on her behalf. She looked like she was about to collapse or cry and was possibly eyeing up the gin.
(It’s amazing how much you watch other people in supermarkets and the judgements you make on them based on their mannerisms and what’s in their trolley! Or is it just me?)
So, there it was, right in front of me. Approximately 18-24 months change between newborn and toddler.
This really is a time for so many changes. Walking brings new risks, fun, challenges. And mood swings. A 14 month-old with mood swings! She doesn’t want to be in the pushchair anymore, pushchairs are for babies. Yet, she can’t quite walk any distance without falling over. She is unbelievably clingy and if she’s not walking then she wants to be carried. Which poses its own problems.
Luckily, I was blessed with hips. When it came to shopping for my wedding dress, I had my eye on a beautiful lace number, fitted and vintage-look. But when it was dragged over my body (like squeezing a sausage into a skin) it became apparent that I was rather blessed in the hips department and that I would probably lose all feeling from the waist down during the ceremony. If I could walk to the alter at all. But, yet, these large hips shot out a baby in just 7 hours so they have served me well. And, now, with a toddler, I know what they are for! I was designed like this for the clingy toddler, the limpet, the koala, the child who WILL NOT BE PUT DOWN. It is truly amazing what you can do when you adapt to having one arm and a person sitting on your hip. No more putting the baby down and making a cup of tea. Oh no, that baby is coming with you! Need the loo? Yep, the baby is coming with you!
She needs entertainment and this has become more demanding now that she has decided to drop to just one nap. I am dreading the day that she drops to no naps. WHAT will I do? I’m already scraping the barrel of fun by the end of a long day. Though, I do have the theme to Rastamouse down complete with Caribbean accent, so it’s not entirely futile. She is starting to copy things. Cute things like holding a hairbrush up to her head, rubbing shampoo into her hair, pretending to sneeze when I do. But, she’s also copying bad habits. The other day, at the end of her meal, she lifted her Tommee Tippee pelican bib up over her head and made a slurping noise. I was confused. Then I realised that she had seen me drink the milk out of my cereal bowl when in a rush to finish breakfast and leave the house. I can’t get away with anything now.
Back to the supermarket, she even needs entertaining there. Though she can sit in the trolley and loves looking around and waving at fellow customers, she needs to hold or examine something. She’ll reach into the trolley and pick up the Monster Munch, shaking them around above her head. Mortified, I replace them with organic blueberries. Can’t have the people in the supermarket judging me, now can I?