Tuesday 27 November 2018

7 Things You'll Know If Your Toddler Loves Babies A Little Too Much

My two-year-old is obsessed with babies. I’m not exaggerating when I say that, she is a huge fan of babies. She can’t get enough of them. She would happily spend all day staring at them, cuddling them and holding hands with them. They’re her favourites. She has little time for kids her age, but she loves babies (I should mention here that she calls anyone younger or shorter than her ‘baby’ so they’re not always actually babies). But her favourite babies are brand new, so fragile and immobile that they cannot physically get away from her.

I haven’t yet met another toddler with a baby obsession to match Ember’s, but I’m assured they exist. So this is for the other parents who, like me, find their toddler’s love of babies somewhat worrying. It’s not that I don’t want her to love babies, I’m all for it. It’s really lovely to see her be gentle and loving towards a baby, but I would prefer if it was a hobby she dabbled in rather than her life’s work. I haven’t seen her tire of a baby yet.

Here are 7 things you might be familiar with if you have a toddler who loves babies:

1. The baby fever
Ember will stop at nothing to get hold of a baby. She will run alongside fast-moving prams in an attempt to get a hold of a baby’s hand. She will elbow older siblings out of the way, climb on chairs and beg to be near babies. She has no shame. It’s almost as though she doesn’t know she’s acting strangely.

She has a radar for babies, as soon as one comes anywhere near us, she is over there in optimum looming position. Those poor babies and their terrified parents don’t stand a chance. She’s like one of the girls chasing The Beatles in the black and white grainy footage from the 60s. Apart from she’s not wearing a mini skirt, and she isn’t chasing after Paul McCartney, and she isn’t in a crowd. So, not that similar, but she runs with the same open-mouthed expression of pure excitement on her face, towards one baby, then another, then another.

2. The apologising
I literally spend all day apologising. Every time we leave the house I am forced to apologise to at least a handful of parents as my daughter stares at and looms over and tries to hold hands with their babies. I spend playgroup just making a continuous circuit of the room, apologising to all of the parents of babies as I go. Sorry, my daughter is nose-to-nose with your baby. Sorry, my daughter is trying to hold your baby’s hand. Sorry, my daughter keeps lying on the floor in front of your baby in the hope that he will crawl across her. Sorry that she likes babies so much.

3. The quarantine
Ember’s baby obsession is holding me back. She is holding me captive in my own house. Since November hit and her pet caterpillars have come out of hibernation from her nostrils, I’ve had to keep her at home. I can’t have her coughing, sneezing and snotting all over these tiny babies. It’s bad enough she’s getting so close to them as it is, without her being a walking petri dish of cold and flu season.

I’ve already missed a full week of playgroups this winter because she is coughing and spluttering germs everywhere she goes. And yeah, maybe I could explain that she’s not well and should avoid the babies for a while, but she’s two and she definitely wouldn’t listen to me. If anything, she would deliberately rub snot all over all of the babies just to make a point. And then we’d probably get barred from playgroup.

4. The fear
You know what is terrifying when you have a child like mine? Pregnancies. Yeah, nothing fills me with dread more than a friend announcing a pregnancy. Oh crap, I think, now I can’t be their friend anymore or Ember will be weird with their baby. Because she doesn’t want just one hold, she wants all the holds. I have a friend who recently had a baby and I actually think Ember has had more cuddles than the mum. It’s all she wants all of the time. Even at a playgroup surrounded by brightly coloured toys and kids her own age, she just wants the baby.

So, whilst I’m happy for my friends as they announce their pregnancies, I’m also sad that our friendships are over for the foreseeable future. Maybe Ember will grow out of the baby thing, I think hopefully, knowing full well that she won’t. She will be yanking those babies towards her for cuddles even as an adult, I can tell.

5. The comments
The problem when you have a baby-obsessed toddler is that people feel the need to comment on it. As she sits under a baby, her arms gently cradling the fragile baby, a wide smile stretched across her face, people can’t help but comment. You’ll have to have another, they say. Over and over again. It’s all anyone says. If you took a dog for a walk and that dog chased a rabbit to within an inch of his life, nobody would advise you to get a pet rabbit. Nobody would look at the wide petrified eyes of the rabbit and think that it was ok, yet people are more than happy to overlook the cries of the terrified baby in the arms of my unpredictable and unruly toddler.

6. Having to play babies
When we’re not following babies around the streets of Romiley, getting as close to babies as is physically possible at playgroup or talking about babies, we’re playing babies. Playing babies isn’t a game that she plays alone with her dolls like you might think. That would be ok. I would be happy for her to engage in some baby-themed independent play to free up a bit of my time. But no, that isn’t what she wants to do. She just wants to lie in my arms with her eyes closed pretending to be a baby. This game can last a long time and sometimes she yells Goo Goo Gaa Gaa in my face even though no baby has ever actually said that.

7. The love of second-time parents
When my firstborn was little, if a snotty-nosed toddler had come within an inch of my baby I would have done three things. Firstly, I would have smiled sweetly at the toddler while standing up quickly so they couldn’t get anywhere near my precious first born. Then I would have looked around for the parent, the sweet smile still forced across my face and pretended it was ‘fine’ while hoping my eyes communicated clearly that it was not. And lastly, I would have spent days waiting for my baby to come down with whatever life-threatening illness it was that caused the toddler’s snot.

Second parents aren’t like this. They don’t seem as nervous when their new babies are stalked by enthusiastically friendly toddlers. With first time parents, I have to rush over and immediately start my apologising. But these relaxed second-time parents seem much happier to have a toddler near their baby. I’m still apologising a lot, of course, that’s what I am forced to do since I am mother to the world’s broodiest toddler. If Ember spots the baby of a third-time parent then it’s like she’s won the lottery. They will happily let her paw, maul and sniff their baby to her heart’s content. To them, she is not a germ-infested personal-space-eschewing whirlwind of chaos, she’s just a willing babysitter.

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