'I hate holidays!' I moaned to my husband. It's been a tough week. My nose still hurts where I got hit with a helicopter.
Holidays are a scam. Who wants to spend more time with a difficult toddler? I'd rather drop him off at his Nanna's so I can have some peace.
However through the tantrums, the injuries (mine and his) and the fights over anything and everything I'd much rather be here than where I was two years ago - in the land of the newborn.
I am a child at heart and always thought I would make a great parent. Through my pregnancy I dreamed of trips to the zoo and family science experiments. My kid would definitely love books as much as I do and maybe even inherit some of my family's musical talent.
But when he arrived those visions seemed so very far away. At that point all he could do was eat, poop and scream. Occasionally he slept. That new parent haze that everyone experiences started to stretch to the horizon. I wondered if it would ever clear.
Not long ago I noticed something. It's fuzzy and it disappears sometimes, but it's definitely there.
My baby - that blob I spent most of my time moving from one place to another - is becoming a person. That's when I realised toddlers are actually pretty good.
They are interested in things.
Ok so he hasn't shown a penchant for physics or classical piano, nor has he indicated if he's more of a Marvel or DC guy. But he does love his wheels. He loves trucks and diggers, trains and cars. That boy is obsessed; looking at pictures of them, reading books and watching shows about them and of course playing with the toys. Nothing is better than the real thing of course so I take great pleasure in driving him to the local construction site to peer through the fence.
They can look after themselves.
So they are only beginning to master this. It starts with the little things. He can wipe his own hands. He wants to clean up his spills. Granted, he creates a mess so that he can clean it up but I put that down to 'life skills training'. He has cottoned onto the fact that I love my tea and brings me his pretend 'cup tea' which I obligingly drink (if I send him back for sugar does that count as a life skill?).
You can see their minds working.
It is incredibly exciting watching a child's language and comprehension develop. He's not just parroting things anymore, he actually understands what he's saying. I will see him learn a phrase one day and be able to use it perfectly in another situation, the next. Someone taught him how to “shoo” the cat and we're still trying to un-teach him that one.
So we're not up to the zoo trips or science experiments yet. One day I will get to build an erupting volcano. For now I'm enjoying the sandpit days and receiving something of a response when I ask what he wants.
It reminds me of a Peppa Pig episode where she meets her baby cousin.
'How do you know what he wants?' Peppa asks.
'We guess!' Replies her uncle and my husband and I laugh knowingly.
Toddlers hate being bored.
Which can be a blessing and a curse. Sometimes you need to get things done. Sometimes you don't feel well. Sometimes you're sick of entertaining the little monster and wish you could have some time to yourself.
The morning walks that are often a struggle to initiate later bring great smiles as I hear a little “whee!” from the pram below as we go down the incline into the gutter.
In the afternoons he excitedly runs over to me with a watering can full of sand and asks me to hold out my hands so he can watch it all pour through my fingers.
Life through a toddler's eyes can be pretty fun if you get down to their level and join in. Instead of insisting they go to bed at precisely 7.15pm you can spend ten minutes in fits of laughter playing scary dinosaurs. They don't care that your 'scared' reaction is terribly fake; they think it's hilarious.
Toddlers are just so excited about life aren't they? It is enough to help me limp through a hard evening and know that in the morning he will be all full of smiles and enthusiasm again.
The best part: It's a glimpse into the future.
Through all this, you can see their little personalities emerging. The kids who love people. The serious kids. The entertainers, the thinkers. This for me, is the best part of this stage.