Tag Archives: toddler behaviour

Momentarily distracted by Twitter

B is heading, with his wobbly gait and frequent pauses to look at something fascinating that has caught his attention on the floor, toward seventeen months. Wait. I mean nearly a year and a half. I used to get so bloody annoyed when parents would quote their toddler’s age in months. What is that all about? It’s just extra maths forced upon you, that’s what it is. And let’s face it, I don’t tell people I am five hundred and eight months old. Mind you, put it like that and it’s no bloody wonder I look so god-damn, black eye-bagged, saggy-jowled tired.

So anyway,  B is nearly a year and a half. That amazing, joy-filled age when your child really starts to gain some independence, a personality begins to blossom, they engage with the world in new ways and provide you with unalloyed delight at every turn. Hang on. Sorry, it must be the fatigue. I was momentarily possessed by the spirit of an Annabel Karmel / Super Nanny mash up. What I meant to say is that it is an age that brings a whole new level of pain, irritation and cluelessness. For both of us…


Listen mummy, it is obvious why I am crying. Any fool could work it out. Here I am, lying on the floor, face down, wailing every last atom of oxygen from my lungs. Why are you looking at me with that quizzical face? If you really loved me, you’d know what was wrong.

Oh god, he’s crying again. Why is he crying? Did he fall when I was momentarily distracted by Twitter? I didn’t hear the sound of flesh hitting floorboards. Mind you, I may have been singing loudly at the time. Is it a teething cry? A hungry cry? Can he not just bloody give me a clue? A little sign, maybe. You know, point to the thing that is making him cry? No, no…  don’t point at me…

Throwing stuff

Life has been pretty dull up to now. But then I discovered I could throw stuff, and I haven’t stopped since. There is nothing that I won’t try to throw. Yesterday, I attempted to throw a pillow. It wasn’t my finest hour, I ended up on my back being swallowed up by an aggressive item of bedding, but I gave it a go. My favourite thing of all though? Chucking stuff into water. Toilet or bath, whatever is wetter – there is nothing quite as funny as the sound of that splash as whatever I have thrown hits the surface. Mummy seems to find it less amusing, strangely.

Throwing the remote control into the bath was not at all bloody funny, despite the squeals of delight from B. He won’t find it quite so funny when we can’t change channel and he has to watch In the Shite Garden every night until he is ten. Mind you, marginally less hilarious was throwing one of E’s toys into a toilet full of warm wee, although I give him begrudging respect for being able to do so within a four second window between me getting off the toilet and quickly closing the lid, having spotted him loitering with intent moments earlier. But this throwing thing has to stop.  In fact, come here. I am going to sellotape your arms to your torso.


Surely, I can make this no clearer, mummy. I am pointing, finger outstretched, towards the blue car. I am even making repeated noises that any idiot would know is the word ‘car’. I am pointing at the car, saying the word car and staring at the car. So why is mummy looking at me with that idiotic frown on her face and not giving me the CAR?

B knows what he wants. He is just crap at telling anyone else. Pointing is all well and good, but I find he lacks a little finesse in the pointing stakes. It is all very clever mastering the art of straightening your forefinger, but a lack of fine motor control means he is less pointing, more air scribbling. He could be pointing at the ball, the fire engine or the bloody book, how am I supposed to know? And grunting at me is not helping much. I pick up each toy in turn and offer it to him, which provokes a shake of the head with renewed arm waving and louder grunting. We could be here some time. Finally, I offer him the car, which he takes. Right. The car. Why didn’t you bloody say so in the first place?

Eating stuff

Mmm, this is crunchy. Oh, and this one is quite soft. Wait, this is one is a bit… hairy. It is amazing the range of snacks that I can find on the floor. I would rather not be interrupted by mummy, who when she spots me having an unauthorised chew, will chase me round the table and try and fish the tasty morsel from my mouth. I mean, please. I don’t know where her hands have been.  And I don’t want to state the flipping obvious, but we wouldn’t have this problem if she just swept up once in a while, would we?

Oh bugger, what’s he eating now? I just need to get him to open his mouth… I find a headlock facilitates this process nicely. B seems to have developed a vice-like closure on his lips in his desperation to keep chewing whatever dried up, dusty morsel he is snacking on, so I resort to ferocious tickling to make him open his mouth. Oh look, it’s a hard black thing… it could be an insect… or something that dropped from someone’s shoe… or a fossilised pea… do you know what? I think I would rather not know. I put B down on the floor, he leans over, picks something small and shrivelled from the floor and pops it into his mouth. Now, I know what that was. It was my will to live.

The magic of Christmas

I am awoken by a hand on my cheek, swiftly followed by a persistent squeeze of my nose.   Ah, the joy of the wakeup call of the four year old: there is nothing else quite like it. And there is a reason for that. Because it is uniquely and teeth grindingly annoying.

Reluctantly I squint at the clock, knowing I am not going to like what I see. The fuzziness of my brain and the weight of my eyelids are telling me in no uncertain terms that this is not a civilised time of the day to be awake. 5.14. Oh, the sodding joy. I contemplate for a moment whether I should try and get E back into his bed for an hour, like I do every time he comes in at this time. This thought process, I believe, comes from a few synapses in my brain that still survive from the time I was a new parent, the time when you had decided those hard and fast rules about behaviour and acceptable actions – such as no child of mine will ever sleep in our bed. But this thought about refusing E entry gets progressively weaker each time I think it, those synapses slowly shrivelling into brain dust as I follow the thought with a simple, defeated action: the lifting of the duvet.

I sigh as he wriggles in, and waste a few atoms of oxygen and energy by asking him to lay still and not talk. It might just be possible, I muse groggily, to close my eyes and go right back to sleep at any mom… a nose in my ear interrupts my patently ridiculous fantasy about further slumber. “Look, mummy, my nose fits in your ear,” he informs me gleefully. Oh good. That is just the sort of game I wish to play in what childless people refer to as the middle of the night.

“Go. To. Sleep.”

There is stillness in the bedroom. I unclench my teeth and pull the duvet up under my chin, moments before it is ripped away and I am left, duvet-less from the waist up and already feeling the cold.

“Stop it, please, or you will have to get out,” I hiss as I reinstate the duvet.

“I don’t want the duvet,” he moans.

“Listen…” I start to speak in order to point out the fact that there is a perfectly good bed in his room that would be delighted to accommodate him in the bloody nude with all the windows open if he so wishes, but I fear keeping my mouth open may well let forth a torrent of unstoppable swearing, or sobbing, so I stop. I am so tired. There have been far too many five ‘o’ clock starts in this household – we’re like honorary bloody milkman but with less whistling. I am not even going to look at the clock again, it’s too depressing. I look at the clock. 5.18am. Fuck, that’s depressing.

I feel tugging at the duvet so I hold on to it tight to avoid another exposure to the elements, my knuckles whitening under the strain. I start to feel like I am afraid that the bed will tip up and throw me out, which actually does not seem such a bad idea all things considered.

Icy cold feet are placed on my thighs. I grit my teeth. Just ignore them, I instruct myself. They slide up to my hips. Don’t say anything, I plead to the bit in my head that is already instructing my lungs to fill with air in anticipation. Then the feet are under my pyjama top and on my waist.

“Stop it right now. Or you will be out of the bed.” I say sternly into the darkness.

Two cold feet reluctantly disappear, to be replaced by tapping fingers. That is it.

I pick him up and put him on the carpet, causing a tsunami of wailing. But he is face down, so the carpet takes the brunt of it and I turn over and shut my eyes. There is about as much chance of me now falling asleep as there is of spontaneously apologising, but I refuse to get up and start my day at twenty past bloody five.

The wailing continues, in that ‘I am not in the least bit upset now but I need to make the point that I am, all things considered, rather miffed’ kind of way that only small children can really carry off with any aplomb. I am happy to regain some bed space and be lulled by my son’s rhythmic, monotone cries. At some point, they stop and I hear him stand up.

“Sooooorrry, muuuummmy.”

Well blow me down with Spiderman pyjamas. Has inhaling all that carpet dust sent him doolally?

Under strict guidelines, I let him back into bed and he lies there, still and quiet. I barely dare breathe in case I break the spell.

I start to drift off, the warm duvet cocooning my descent into sleep, slowly… I am suddenly aware of E’s face right next to mine. Then his nose is touching my cheek, followed my his forehead against my temple. He applies a little pressure so I subtly move my head to get some space. I do not want to talk or acknowledge him, as this would scatter the last vestiges of sleep that are floating round my head. But at the point at which my neck is almost breaking from the odd angle I am forced to adopt, I decide enough is enough.

“RIGHT. THAT IS IT. I AM CALLING SANTA.” I may have made myself easier to hear at this point. Easy enough that next door may have also heard. But I was not shouting. God no. I am not a mother who shouts, I am far too together to be riled by a four year old.

There is a second of silence as the enormity of the threat is processed by E.

“No, mummy!” he wails in panic.

“WHERE IS MY PHONE?” I sit up.

“I won’t do it again,” he says, lying down and clamping his eyes shut.

I lie back down. And that, right there, is the magic of Christmas.


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We’re on the road to nowhere…

“I don’t want to take my scooter, I want to walk.”

Eleven words that strike terror in my heart.

“No, scooting is much more fun than walking,” I say breezily, picking up his scooter and swinging it back and forth. “Much more fun.”

It certainly bloody is. If E wants to walk anywhere, we have to plan in about an hour and a half’s contingency time. In fact, I am not sure that technically, it can be called walking. It is slower than a meander, less purposeful than a wander and significantly more irritating than an amble.

We may set out with good intention, with me carefully explaining that the library shuts soon (a big fat functional lie, obviously) so we must not dawdle, stop or be otherwise distracted. But that boy could be distracted by a fucking dust particle if the mood takes him.

“Look, mummy!” he cries, squatting on his haunches and staring intently at the ground. I am already ten foot ahead.

“Yes, lovely. Now come on.”

“No, you can’t see from there.”

He’s bloody right I can’t see from here, there is a red mist descending and it’s decreasing visibility by the second.

“Come on, please.”

“Just look.”

With clenched teeth I retrace my steps. Retracing my steps is not a good thing. In the war of the walks, it is nigh on admitting defeat.  We have progressed so little that I can still see our house and I fleetingly think of aborting the trip and going home.

I look at where he is staring.

“Look, an ant, mummy.”

“Oh yes.” I consider mustering a little more enthusiasm but find I am shit out of eagerness.

E stands, stamps on the ant and we recommence our journey. For a short while. Perhaps five or six steps. And then E stops again. I plead through gritted teeth for him to get a move on, and he assures me that he will only be a second, he just wants to collect these stones. I turn around to see that he is stood in the middle of someone’s gravel drive. I wonder if I laid down in the middle of the pavement and sobbed quietly, anyone would mind?

Eventually, as the last dribble of sanity leaks from me, we restart our walk, with E’s pockets bulging with a part of the neighbour’s driveway. A pigeon lands on the pavement in front of us, and with a delighted laugh, E chases the startled bird, which flies off in the direction we are heading. What a bloody result. E is running down the road, eating up the  yards. I follow with glee but my happiness is inevitably short lived as the pigeon, still skittering from pavement to sky, does a complete about turn causing E to retrace most of his steps. Buggar.

The pigeon having finally escaped, I am left with the task of restarting our walk. E, on the other hand, has tasked himself with picking every berry from a bush in someone’s front garden.  Bloody hell. A tectonic plate could get to the sodding library faster than my son. And give a lot less back chat, too.

“Please, come ON.”

E ignores me.

“If you don’t come now, we won’t have time to watch the television later.”

Bingo. Reluctantly, E moves away from the bush, before stopping and placing a berry on the ground. He takes another step, stops, and carefully places another berry on the ground.

“What are you doing?” I can barely contain a scream that is threatening to emerge.

“Just leaving a trail for the birds to follow.” I knew it was a bloody mistake to read him Hansel and Gretel.

And so the walk continues, excruciatingly slowly. And with every step of progress we make, a persistent thought nags at me. With every metre we move toward the library, a cold sense of dread settles on me. We’ve got to walk all the bloody way home yet. I stifle a small sob and take another step forward.



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