I’ll start with a Scandinavian TV show style recap of the drama that is the precious one’s day to day travails since I fell off the blogging bandwagon. In short, he’s developed from baby to little boy, I’ve gone back to worker and we’ve outsourced care to the nursery. It turns out that his expanding brain has given him more options to demonstrate “no.” We naively thought we were moving to easier street.
So he is a 3-day a week inmate at the nursery . For those who have never been to one, it’s like One Flew Over Cockoo’s Nest but with smaller tables and chairs. I can once again drink hot cups of tea, eat hot lunches and have a wee when I need one without him tugging at my legs or trying to launch himself into the toilet bowl. It’s the simple things. It’s all good news as he loves it and in many ways he prefers it to being with us. He’s gutted on non-nursery days and he runs away from me when I go to pick him up. Apparently that’s an endorsement of our parenting skills.
He has also risen to a mental state that is far superior to that of a dog. When I wrote my last substantial post I’d have put him at around dog in terms of mental abilities. This is no insult, show me a new born baby anywhere that has more mental agility than your average mutt and I’ll show you the star character in a moody mind bending horror film. Now, in a metaphorical sense, he would batter a dog at Countdown. I’m not boasting but he’s so advanced that he points at every older woman of any race and shouts “nanna”. I’m nodding with pride.
This growing understanding of the world around him and the realisation that he can influence it has brought a change in our day-to-day lives. He’s raced beyond crawling and now toddles like he’s John Wayne navigating an icy pavement. Without any concept of self-preservation. It was magical watching him master walking in the safety of our nothing sharp front room. We no longer go out. That is a partial lie as we’re quite able to head to places full of plastic toys and cushions. We’ve given up going out to do the things that adults like to do. We soldiered on for a while, unable to adjust to the new realities. After one meal too many where one of us followed him on his quest to bang his head on table corners while the other ate alone, swapping roles so the other could enjoy a cold meal and then heading home, we concluded that it just isn’t worth it.
His growing personality means we have to bribe him with raisins to get him into his car seat and now a big part of our role is as amateur interpreters. He points the direction he wants to go, he grabs his shoes when he wants to go out and he says “How do” when he wants his favourite CD put on. His tongue is still developing its dexterity for wrapping itself around the words that he is trying to say. Our interactions are like when I’m approached by a tourist asking for directions in stodgy English on the Underground. When he looks confused I repeat it louder and slower. He screams. I look apologetic. We’re both shorn of ideas and leave dissatisfied.
He feigns no understanding of what is being said, unless he confidently declares “no-no-no-no-no-no.” And, as is the prerogative of an eighteen month old, he doesn’t always know what he wants. In these situations he conveys his irritation/frustration/anger/rage by curling up on the floor, looking up at me and screaming with a bright red face and a piercing tone. I respond by standing with furrowed head unsure how to resolve the situation even if I wanted to. I stand, he curls and we’re both bemused. When I say “no” in my sternest tone – if he’s throwing a spoon full of yoghurt at me or rummaging through the bins – then he looks at me with a big smile and carries on with an angelic “I’m only 18 months I have no clue what you’re going on about” look.
At one stage of my leave I felt serene that I knew what I was doing but now I’m not so sure. I use the opportunity of dropping him at nursery to seek assurance from the trained experts in these shenanigans. I ask his care coordinator if other members of his peer group exhibit similar behaviour and if there is anything that I can do. She smiles in that reassuring way, “it’s his age”.