Toddler Talk

I never used to understand how parents could understand their toddlers. I would watch them listening intently to their child and say “oh yes certainly you can shove that car up your brothers nose” (or something to that effect). All I heard coming out of the toddlers mouth was noises, nothing even resembling words or sentences. I used to think parents just made it up to make the rest of us clueless people look silly.

Now I have my own toddler who is starting to talk and it really is like learning a whole new language. Probably no one else would know that my little monkey pronouncing “loud” and pointing at the roof really meant “thunder”. Sometimes you just “know” what the word is they are trying to say. To an outside person my little monkey saying eek eek would not register as him saying squeak squeak, but to my finely tuned ears that is exactly what he is saying.

But more than that, you get really good at reading body language and good old fashion detective work. A pointed finger, quivering lip and a cry could mean (depending on what is in the direction of the pointed finger) anything from wanting food/drink, toy, blanket or person/pet. You have to slowly and methodically (though usually its frantic and chaotically) work through each possible item till a big smile breaks on your toddlers face and they clap their hands in delight, and you think “eureka!”.

I am not afraid to admit that you don’t really know what your kid is saying you just make it up. There maybe a whole stream of jibberish and one recognisable word so you hear yourself saying “yes that is a pink polka dotted elephant, well done!”. It’s not like you child can say “oh come on I am not speaking Japanese pull it together woman I meant ‘get me a water’ not ‘there is a pink polka dotted elephant’ ”. So you have the advantage there over other adults, who secretly suspect you have no idea what your child is saying, but because you look like you know, they assume you do. As the saying goes “Fake it till you make it”.

Learning How To Throw – And Simultaneously Piss Off The Cat

My little monkey has evolved into the thrower of doom. He has learned to throw. Not the “I don’t want this offending item, get it out of my view” throw; you know the one it usually involves you watching helplessly as food, drink, phones etc sail from your child’s hand and smash/splat/stick to the floor. No it’s the “I want to destroy you by pegging you with this super painful item” throw. He has developed quite a good throw too, with a bit of power behind it. Not always accurate but when it hits its target it HURTS.

It all started innocently enough. We got back from holidays and our little monkey had somehow learned he could throw soft toys at the cat and get her. He would chase her round the house squealing with delight and picking up random toys and chucking them. Most of the time he missed but the random bullseye and resulting hiss of annoyance from said cat was enough to encourage the little monkey to continue with the game. Naturally we stopped him when we caught him. We would firmly say “no, do not throw things at the cat who is about to go Tasmanian devil on your ass” (or something to that effect) and remove the offending item from his clutches. The little monkey would look at us carefully as if weighing up his options and then quietly slink away. I’m positive his thought process at this point was something like “you have won this round mother, but this is far from over. The cat and I have unresolved business”.

At this point we were not overly concerned. Throwing is a skill and it needs to be mastered right? ALL the baby books say that. So we just continued what we were doing and things were fine (well the cat probably thought everything was far from fine, but that is a different post). We did eventually learn that our little monkey had gone ninja on us and was throwing things at the cat when we were not looking or not around. The first we knew about an attack was a terrified yowl from the cat as it streaked past us fleeing in terror, with the little monkey cackling wickedly as he chased said cat down.

We walked into the room once to find him throwing a remote controlled Thomas the Tank Engine at the cat. What the heck? That toy was expensive, oh and the cat could have been seriously hurt. Plus it had been all of a minute, we had put the little monkey inside and brought some parcels through the front door. If we had been slower we might have had a Thomas the Tank engine shaped flattened cat.

Now we were getting worried but were not sure how to proceed, opinions differed on what to do. Some resources said just ignore it, it’s a phase. If you draw attention to it you are feeding the behaviour. Others said punish, punish, punish. Now I am not going to get into this debate but needless to say we were unsure of what to do. So kept saying “no” and removing the offending item till the adults in the house hold could come up with a game plan.

Then one day I was sitting innocently watching TV and next thing I know I am nailed between the eyes with a bottle cap (plastic kind but still freaking hurt). Once I stopped seeing stars circling round my head, I realised my little monkey had just pegged me with a bottle cap and had pegged me pretty hard too. He was laughing maniacally and rummaging around for another thing to throw. As he stood with a book and wound his arm up for the throw I moved with amazing speed out of my reclining chair (dimly noting the cat on the head rest had been catapulted off….oppps) and confiscated the item there and then. We realised he had been trying to throw stuff at the cat (at least this is what I am hoping and that my child isn’t secretly Stewie from Family Guy) and had accidently got me. We also realised he had a LOT of force behind his throw now.

So, new game plan. We are encouraging his throwing ability but redirecting it. Dr Penelope Leach suggested this as the best of both worlds solution. On one hand you get to encourage the skill, but on the other hand you stop the bad behaviour. So far it’s been a bit of a fail as our little monkey just stands there looking bemused by his idiotic parents throwing a ball into a bucket, which he then carefully plucks out of the bucket and……runs off. BUT we have stopped the throwing of items inappropriately by redirecting his attention when we see it happening. I will update you further with either our success or epic failure.

If you have any suggestions I am way open to hearing them.

Amber Teething Necklaces

At risk of sounding like a hippie, I am totally in love with my Son’s amber teething necklace!

If you havent heard of them, Amber teething necklaces are made for wearing (not chewing) when a baby is teething. The warmth from the skin releases the active ingredient in the Amber, called succinic acid. Recent research suggests that this can improve immunity, help reduce drooling and soothe red cheeks. Amber’s anti-inflammatory properties are said to help relieve teething pain and calm a baby without the use of drugs

I had friends who have used these teething necklaces on their babies since they were really young, and i was always a little bit sceptical.  I thought they looked really cute on baby girls, but i was not about to whack a necklace on my cloth wearing, co-sleeping, attachment parented baby boy, for fear of really becoming a hippie.

And then we had – what is now referred to in our house as – the week of horror.  We had just successfully completed baby boot camp and got our little man out of our bed and into his cot, where he was sleeping through the night, without kicking Mummy in the face. All was going well, i even felt human!! Then the dreaded teeth started. My son woke every 40 minutes, had neurofen, panadol, and a homoeopathic remedy that smelt and tasted like cola and to this day i have no real belief that it works. We paced and we fed and we bathed him in the middle of the night, i sung twinkle twinkle until my voice was hoarse, and two days later we had a front tooth poke through the gum, we held a breath and went to bed that night hoping we would get at least three hours sleep, and we did! He slept through and so did Mummy and Daddy. We thought we had done it, but the following night it happened all over again. So in desperation i bought an amber teething necklace. By the time it arrived we had a second tooth through the gum and we were back to sleeping through, but i put it on anyway and we ghave all happily co-existed ever since.

Until this week. My son’s childcare has developed a no jewelry policy and so i took his little necklace off as i dropped him off, and when Daddy picked him up, he called to say that my son had a teething / dribble rash all down his chin. From four hours with out it!! We have cut three teeth in the teething necklace without so much as a grizzle, no panadol, no demeted midnight singing, or twilight bathing. It really is a little miracle!!

Due to the no jewellery policy and my mature outlook on life, i hide it on him on childcare days, i tuck it right into his singlet, and so far no dribble rashes, and Mummy and Daddy and my gorgeous teething toddler, live happily ever after.

The Joy of Learning

The other day as I was walking out the front door to the car, I turned to close the door. I looked over at my son, and saw he was waving at me. Not only was he waving he was making a buh buh noise. Ok not quite bye bye and a wave but getting damn close, and by parent bragging rights a home run scored!

This is now a regular thing for each morning. My partner or I go to the car to put all the bags in and our son stands there waving and saying buh buh. The intent is clearly there, but delivery not so much. He now has that association because it’s the only time he will do it without prompting.

I have slowly come to the realization that watching your child grow and learn has to be one of the best experiences in life. It is just a joy to watch them work things out and discover their joy at learning new skills. Even the terrifying milestones like learning to climb up on to the roof, or falling from said roof. All are learning experiences which shape, form and define us. Is it any wonder why parents all think their children are geniuses and gloat and preen proudly to other parents about their little one’s latest development?

Being a part of your child’s life as they go from this sleeping, eating, pooping lump to a walking, talking, mini human is amazing. Something I never fully appreciated till I had a child. Previously I used to think human evolution was the one thing it had stuffed up, I mean it takes years for a child to be able to function even remotely by its self. Compare that to say a monkey and we look positively stupid. But now I realize that humans have so MUCH to develop, things we take for granted like walking and talking, but stuff that for a baby takes a lot of time and effort.

I must confess though I still think evolution stuffed up a little bit. For starters why is it a good idea that a baby sticks every god-forsaken-thing in its mouth? Seriously think about it, surely that is a trait that could have gone down the same road as the dinosaurs and died out. I don’t see the value at all. Evolution needs to have a sit down and say “you’re fired” to putting everything in your mouth trait. But I digress.

This phase in your child’s life, the 0-5 phase where they are learning, doing, and growing so much, is probably the main reason working parents feel like they are “missing out”. It can literally be a blink and you miss it situation. One minute laying still the next sitting, one minute saying gibberish the next “yo mamma” pops out. But we have found a way around that. We decided until we witness it ourselves we don’t count any new development as a first. It is just a practice run.

However my tune may very well change once my son hits two. Might not find things so wonderous then in the middle of an A grade super sized melt down.

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