She wants to play where the toddlers play now. She stands at the bottom of the slide, looking up hopefully. But the fact she is stood right in the way of the approaching shoes flying fast down the slide, prove that she is not yet one of them. She does not yet know the rules of the toddler. Slide etiquette, playing mummies and daddies, and pretend cooking are not yet in her realm of understanding. She watches the toddlers, and she mimics their behaviour. She sees the two friends playing cooking in the kitchen, and so she stands at the empty kitchen next to them and repeatedly slams the fridge door.
But she’s not a baby anymore either. She’s too big, and too dangerous for the baby area. She falls over, she throws toys, and she loves to poke people on the nose. She can’t do these things in the baby area, because the babies are too small and precious. She looks big and clumsy as she moves about in the cushioned area of the church hall. She stops momentarily to pick up a toy, she inspects it and realises it is of no interest, she puts it down and moves away. That toy would have captivated her for twenty minutes not so long ago, but not anymore. That is how I know she’s no longer a baby.
And so she is my toddler in training. When she was a baby, she would spend time concentrating on how to move her body. Her face would crumple in concentration as she reached out to grab a toy. Now these things are second nature. She studies not herself, but us now. She studies me as I get ready to leave the house, and she reaches out to touch my makeup brushes as I put them down. She stares at the little girl playing with a doll, and when the girl moves on, Ebony goes over to push the pram for a bit. She watches her Daddy tapping away on his laptop, and she wants to push the buttons too.
She soaks everything up, she wants to learn about all the things she sees. She surprises me with the things she knows, things I haven’t taken the time to teach her. I said ‘head’ the other day, and as I said it she reached up and patted hers. I tried a few other body parts, and she showed me those too. I haven’t taught her most of them, she must have picked them up through everyday life. It’s amazing how much these little people pick up.
She is learning new words all the time now. She rehearses each word over and over, until she feels she has it right. She throws her toys to the ground so she can hear herself exclaim “dropped”. She repeats sounds and words. I don’t need to sit in front of her saying the same word until she picks it up, she will pick it up from conversation. I learned this the hard way when she called her soft toy rabbit a twat. So now I watch my tongue, and be careful what I say because her little ears are always listening.
|Dolly & Roger asleep.|
She has some favourite soft toys. Dolly, Roger, monkey and bunny, who she plays with throughout the day. If she has raisins, they have raisins. If she is thirsty, they get water. If she is tired, she tucks them all up in bed and lies next to them. And, yesterday, she sat monkey on the potty because she wanted to use it herself. I love seeing her look after her toys, and care for them the way we care for her. She kisses them lots and makes them kiss each other. She gives them cuddles and dances with them.
Every day reveals a new skill, a new word or a new game that we can play. On Monday, she walked across the kitchen all by herself. Her first real walk. She’s slow and unsteady, a little uncertain of how to walk long distances, but she perseveres. My little toddler in training.