So, I’m pretty sure she’s already smarter than me.
Her memory is utterly phenomenal, and her babbling away totally charming. Although most of her speech now consists of three to four word sentences, lacking much in the way of structure, she also came out with “I’m going to eat it all up!” the other morning at breakfast. She can correctly recite about 80% of the alphabet without prompting, count to ten easily (twenty if she’s feeling it) and recognise 4 or 5 letters reliably. I’m just about bursting with pride.
I’ve been mildly worried recently that her motor skills aren’t quite on the same wavelength – not because I expect her to be able to do more, or am concerned about her future abilities, but because I know I have a tendency to worry about her physical safety and restrict her a bit, and I thought I might be holding her up. And it’s not because she’s a girl, but because we simply don’t have that much safe space (I don’t mind her falling over, but I do mind her getting injured, unsurprisingly). I really started to fret when she started saying “be careful, Mummy! Be careful Daddy!”, as I realised just how often I was, effectively, teaching her to be scared.
But I’ve noticed something about the things she’s resisting doing recently, and that’s that her reluctance doesn’t seem to be motivated by fear.
For example, she won’t climb stairs. Unless, that is, I hold her hands, and she can climb them one step at a time, like an adult. She only deigned to attempt a hands and knees crawl into a playground Wendy house today because another kid did so – eventually though she refused and wanted to have her hand held, so she could step in in one. A couple of weeks ago it took around 25 attempts, with me progressively supporting her less and less before she would climb up an incline holding onto a handrail instead of me (she flatly refused to go on hands and knees). She’s fascinated by dirt, and lives in a household where we wipe hands only the normal amount, but doesn’t like using her hands to climb or crawl (and as a baby surfed furniture before she crawled and crawled for only three weeks before walking independently).
So… what is it? Is it laziness, motivated by the fact that I all-too-easily give in and help her? I think this is a likely culprit, and am working on that – she knows what ‘try’ means, and she’s hearing it more than ever now. Is it a little bit of perfectionism and frustration, wanting to get straight to the end point without bothering with the intervening stages? My mother says my sister was a bit like that and she still is a hard-working perfectionist, in a good way. Six of one, half a dozen of the other?
It’s really me, and not her, I’m worried about. The world will waste no time placing limitations on her, so God knows I shouldn’t be. I think I owe her the time spent reflecting on and changing my own behaviour if I expect her to keep working on hers.
Speaking of which… ahhh, toddlers. She’s mostly fine and cheery, as long as her need for sleep is observed. But boy does she have a meltdown if she thinks I’m cross with her. She’ll do something naughty, laugh, apologise, and do it again. Typical boundary testing. And then I follow through on the consequences and make a stern face, and… oh boy. And you can see that the tears are of real distress. Tiredness led to a tense moment at bathtime followed by a tearful bedtime and I made sure she got a solid block of cuddles, kisses and being told how much I love her before going to sleep, just to balance it out. This child has known nothing but affection and gentleness all her life, but she’s so thrown by anything in our relationship feeling out of sorts. Where does that come from? Either way, I’m never going to scrimp on pouring on the reassurance. She will know, every day of her life. how much her family adores her.
This stage fills me with wonder and scares the crap out of me at the same time. Yet, I feel like I’ve said that at every stage, so I guess as a parent you never really grow out of that, huh?