Toddlers, pre-schoolers-those illusive little creatures somewhere between the ages of two and four. Some of the traits mentioned below could be seen in a younger child but, with six months to go until four, I am hoping we will be saying good bye to them then.
If you have just had your first baby and are still in those heady, love struck days, please stop reading now. You will either look at your lovely new baby in horror or, like every other new mum when you see a toddler have a tantrum in the supermarket aisle, smugly think, my child will never do that or, you will want to run away and cry. So please, for your own sake, look away now.
Here is my definitive guide to the A to Z of toddlers.
A is for art. If, until now, you had a pristine home with clean, cream walls and uncluttered surfaces, prepare for ambush. Armed with any kind of writing implement, when your back is turned, the toddler will set to work. Crayon on walls, Sudorcrem on the carpet, biro on work tops, you name it, they will have a go. There are many top tips for art removal like baby wipes, erasers and Stardrops but mark my words dear friends, there will always be a mark where the scribble has been. It’s like grafitti for little ones.
B is for bines. This is Boo’s word for a mobile but whatever word your little darling uses, they will be obsessed wih them thing, Think passwords on your smart phone and keeping your landlines out of reach. Other people will not laugh when your child rings them at 6am. Unfortuntely it always seemed to be my childless friends who get the call and they are even less understanding having probably been out until 5am.
C is for choc. I have written before about the addictive effect of chocolate on small children. It doesn’t take them long to realise that purple shiney wrapper has something brown, sweet and lovely inside. As soon as choc can be identified, it will have to be kept in a lockable box similar to medicines and, if you need a quick fix on particularly stressful days (it’s cheaper than vodka), you will have to learn to either eat it with your head fully immersed in the fridge or learn the skills of shovelling it all in your mouth at once and not go near them for ten minutes-these super sleuth littlies can smell it on your breath at ten paces.
D is for demanding. They want it and they want it now. They want you to see what they are doing, help with what they’re doing and do it for them all day every day. Remember when they were babies and you could leave them watching TV for five minutes while you had a coffee? Not any more.
E is for elastic bands. I have no idea what the attraction is but if I gave Boo a box of elastic bands or hair bobbles, she would be entertained for ages. I do have to check her arms several times a day though as she does love to place them around her wrists.
F is for Father. What is it about Daddy? He can do no wrong in her eyes. He does work hard but I do everything with the child and he waltzes in to a cry of ‘Daddy’ like she’s not seen him for ten years. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad she loves her daddy but why does he get the best kisses? Not fair.
G is for gifts. Before children you neve appreciated gifts properly. It’s not the gifts that money can buy, it’s the first flower they pick for you, the chocolate button they present you with or the piece of chewed food that they want you to eat-that is the height of selflessness to a toddler and most of the time (apart from a snail) it is lovely.
H is for hugs. Despite all of the ‘fun’ stuff, there’s nothing like a hug off the little terrors. Melts your heart.
I is for irrational. There is no half way with toddlers. No middle ground. It’s their way or the high-pitched squealing way (see Y).
J is for junk. When I first had Boo, I was determined not one chicken nugget would pass those perfect little lips. What a fool I was. I’m not saying I feed them to her all the time but why does junk food seem so much more tasty than proper food?
K is for keys. Like phones, keys are the holy grail of toddlers. At one point in every one of their lives, they will hide them. I had to take a whole day off work last year because they had been put in a ‘safe place’.
L is for loveable. Even when they’ve drawn on your walls, once that little lip starts quivering or they give you a cheeky smile, you can’t help forgive them. That’s how they manage to get away with so much.
M is for Mummy. Most children say Dada first but for my special little one, it was Dada then Daddy and a ‘Dada’ became anyone who would do something for her so my mum and I became ‘Dadas’. The first time she said mummy, I was over the moon. It’s always the little things.
N is for No. Get used to this small word as it gets uttered a LOT. Shall we go for a bath? No. It’s bedtime, No. Eat your peas, No. Stop pulling the dogs tail, No. You even end up having yes, no, yes, no, yes, no, yes, no, arguments with them. You never win unless you say no and they they sometimes say yes. Try it for yourself.
O is for offering to help. Help, you’ve guessed it, being the opperative word. It’s not always helpful but it is always well meant. You don’t want your lovely smear-free windows being cleaned with a baby wipe. The dog really didn’t need brushing with your hair brush but, they thought was there and every bit of ‘help’ in our house is praised in the hope that one day help will really be helpful.
P is for Peppa Pig. Like chocolate, it seems to have an addictive effect on these creatures. I assumed it was just a phase and we would move on to some other delight but we must be two years into this phase and there are no signs of it ebbing yet. Oink Oink.
Q is for quick. The only thing I can compare this to is small rodent or spiders who can run like the speed of light. Let go of that arm for a second in public and a game of chase will ensue. Not great when you have to leave your handbag in the trolley while you hot foot it around Sainsburys after a three-year old. We went seeing Sooty not long ago and, being on the front row, it was a great excuse to run down the aisles. After running the other way to cut her off-twice, a kindly steward stopped her and she didn’t do it again. Phew.
R is for rebel. Think teenagers are bad? The terible twos are followed by what many describe as a ‘threenager’ and that my friends is exactly what they are. Tantrums, foot stamping, screaming with frustration. Be afraid, be very afraid.
S is for sleep. Think getting out of the night feeds heralds a new sleeping pattern? Think again. They might sleep through for a while but it could all change in a heart beat. Clocks go forward? They get up early. Clocks go back? They get up early. Afternoon naps become a thing of the past but should they nod off for 20 seconds in the car? They’ll be up until midnight. Pass the coffee.
T is for talking. You worry because they don’t talk. You worry because they talk too much. You can guarantee though whichever category they come under, they will, at some point say the wrong thing. Like call a woman a man in a shop. Oh the shame.
U is for un co-operative. Have you even tried getting a back-arching child into a car seat? It’s like trying to get a square peg in a round hole.
V is for very. Very cute, very annoying, very loud, very lovable. See I. There is no ‘a little cute’. It is all or nothing.
W is for wobblers. Tantrums. Hissy-fits. However you describe them, they will happen. In the supermarket when other shoppers think you are the worst mother ever. Out for meals when you actually feel sorry for other diners. Usually pea hurling is a sport reserved for your own home.
X is for xylaphone and the other musical instruments you bought to hone your child’s fine motor and creativity skills. Bin them. Bin them now. They aren’t even tuneful when you can play Twinkle Twinkle.
Y is for yelling. Often accompanied by high pitched squealing. It could be excitement or frustration or just because it’s a Tuesday or a Thursday afternoon. There is no rhyme or reason to this vocalising. Neighbourhood dogs have started burying their heads in the garden with their bones.
Z is for zoo. Living with toddlers is often like being a zoo keeper and living in a permanent zoo. Your house is a mess. Feeding time is a precarious and often expensive business and, you are on duty seven days a week, 365 days a year.
I wouldn’t change it for the world.