The toddler years are full of milestones, and it feels as though we are hitting them all at high speed. Especially now that we are weeks away from providing E with a new brother, it feels like they are beginning to happen thick and fast. E has matured, noticeably so, within the past couple of weeks. We’re suddenly one step closer to potty training and we’re beginning to have conversations that are detailed, and that continue beyond more than one exchange.
The toddler who would never listen is beginning to follow instructions. “OK, mammy” she says, when she’s asked to put her pyjamas in the wash basket, or to tidy her toys. It’s not always OK; sometimes it ends with her getting out more toys or trying to put the clean laundry in the dirty linen basket, but the thought is definitely there. I thought we’d never reach this point, but slowly and surely, all of a sudden, it’s happening. My baby is a baby no longer. She’s growing up.
This is all wonderful and terrifying at the same time. E with her little blonde bob that has never been cut, and her brand new boots that make her look so grown up. She’s almost two, but at times it feels as though she is so much more mature. She’s so tall now, and so confident, and she’s becoming such good company. Now that she is able to concentrate more easily, and has more ways of communicating, she’s great fun to spend time with.
Which brings me to another milestone. E has had her first settling in visits at nursery, and she starts “for real” later this week. It’s only for a couple of hours at a time, and a couple of sessions during a week, but, especially in the run up to a new baby arriving, it’s something we both need. I need a break, and some time to get to know her brother, and she needs time and space to develop and grow. Now is a good time. We’re not at the stage where she is clingy and wants to stick to mummy like glue. We have patiently waited for the point when she is ready and she has loved the chance to try something new and be on her own. This new found freedom has been fascinating to watch. She’s been so keen to go and hasn’t wanted to come away! I can only feel as though it has been a good thing. We were looking for a place where E would be settled and happy, and would enjoy herself. Somewhere she would be well cared for, and that communicated well with home. So far, so good.
I want E to have space to become, and to be herself. Very soon, she will make the transition from only child to big sister. I don’t want her to feel overwhelmed by that role. She needs time to develop her personality and to shake the dust of her sibling from her patent leather butterfly shoes once in a while. I’m hoping she’ll socialise and make friends, and have a little bit of independence.
I wonder where we will be a couple of months from now. As my due date gets closer and closer, I find myself thinking about all the things that having a newborn again will bring. That helplessness. That inability to communicate. That need to be constantly close to mummy. And how far we are from that now that E is almost two.
And yet, in some ways, she’s still a baby herself. She occasionally has a dummy at night, and she still has a bottle of milk before bed. She’s still cuddled to sleep. We haven’t yet pushed her to eat with a knife and fork, and much of the time she still prefers to use her fingers. She hasn’t yet worked out drinking out of a cup without spilling it down her front, although she’s almost there. We still use a sling, and she still loves to be cuddled into mummy’s back, or chatting about what she can see from her high up perch. She’s still in a sleeping bag, and still in a cot, without a pillow. There’s a traitorous little part of me that relishes these things that keep my little one, well, still little. Too fast she is growing, and too quickly she develops. It’s these small things, these slow transitions that I’m hoping nursery will ease. She’ll see other children doing differently, and slowly and gently, she will learn too. I’m not in any rush. She’ll do it in her own time.
Jenny Smith – The Supply Teacher