Monday 21 January 2019

The Curse Of The Squawking Toddler

I don’t know if this is a second child thing, or if we have just done a terrible job of parenting the second time around, but my two-year-old squawks.

She also talks, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t some weird new way of communicating. She hasn’t developed her own language or figured out a way to share anecdotes with her feather friends. It’s a thing she does as well as talking, not at the same time you understand, but just as an extra tool in her communicating toolbox. She’s got the expressive facial expressions down (shit-eye much?), the body language (she can throw her arms in the air like no other), the angry sentences (‘no, mummy, I not use my words,’ said defiantly and often) and now she has the squawk.

It is high-pitched and loud and very much like the kind of sound you would expect to hear from a deranged and tortured bird. We live in a terraced house so I am expecting the RSPCA to knock on the door any day now. ‘Excuse me, ma’am, but we received reports of a bird of prey being mistreated.” Our local RSPCA officer is probably American and I almost certainly have the eyebags to pull off ma’am.

The squawk comes during times of great neglect. Like the time I told her she couldn’t have another biscuit or the time I politely suggested it might be bedtime. Sometimes she does it at 3 am because she is enraged that she needs the toilet (if you own a lucrative earplug factory, it is probably our neighbours making you rich). Sometimes she does it because she doesn’t like her dinner or because she wants to go out in January wearing only her sister’s t-shirt (no shoes, no knickers, no coat).

It starts with a warning. A wide-mouthed wide-eyed silent scream to let me know she means business. If I do not immediately concede and let her have what she wants, the squawk starts. It is loud, especially loud between the hours of midnight at 4 am, I have noticed. Sometimes, it is a short sharp note not unlike a smoke alarm. Other times it turns into an endless high-pitched shriek that only culminates when she runs out of breath. Thank god for her toddler-sized lungs otherwise she would probably already have an ASBO.

I have observed the reactions of our cat and nearby wildlife and it is clear that my toddler is no Dolittle, the squawk merely comes from a place of spite. She does it for no other reason than because she can. I am hoping she will grow out of it, that one day she will simply learn to say ‘I’m disappointed to hear that,’ instead of squawking like an unhinged bird frothing from the beak.

I am not used to this unnecessary screech, my first child displayed her annoyance at this age by saying things like, ‘I want to scrunch you up and throw you in the bin.’ Now that I could handle. If anything, my heart swelled with pride at her threats and insults, my talented little wordsmith. I struggle to feel anything when faced with the squawk, especially when I am half asleep.

She will grow out of it, right?

* Squawk not pictured.

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