It must be wonderful to view the world through the eyes of a toddler. Everything fresh and exciting and new. Every day bringing its own adventures. Laughing as you run away from your parents who are trying to stop you falling down a hole.
Yes, we’ve moved firmly into the developmental period known as toddlerdom. Or, as we have termed it, “where the bloody hell have you gone?”, “stop that”, and “NO!”
Every day the boy seems to have learnt something, or figured out how to do something different or found a new way of inflicting pain on himself and others around him.
It is wonderful to see the boy padding around exploring the world independently but it has thrown up a few unexpected surprises. You’d think that by now we’d be a little more prepared for them.
He Has No Fear
I’ve suspected this for a while but his recent actions only serve to reinforce this perception of him as some kind of Rambo style character, operating entirely devoid of fear.
When we go for afternoon walks in the searing tropical sunlight the boy will happily wonder off on his own. Obviously, we are with him. We don’t give him the house keys and tell him to let us know when he’ll be home and if he wants dinner plating up. For starters, he hasn’t got the fine motor control to use the lock and he’s rubbish at reheating his own food.
What I mean is that he decides where to go and merrily trundles off in that direction.
As he saunters his way around the mooban waving at all the pretty Thai ladies and ignoring the ugly ones (this is not a joke – he actually does this) he will occasionally be barked at by the pet dogs in people’s yard; in particular two large golden retrievers that live a couple of streets over.
Initially, we were concerned that he would be afraid of them.
In fact, like Rorschach in Watchmen, the reverse seems to be true.
When the dogs start going crazy at him, he slowly walks towards them with a kind of bemused and quizzical look on his face, occasionally giving a dismissive laugh.
Dog 1: Look, look – it’s that little white kid again. Let’s scare him.
Dog 2: Yeah, good idea! Woof woof woof!
Dog 1: Woof woof, hehehehe woof woof!
Dog 2: What’s he doing now?
Dog 1: Er…laughing.
Dog 2: WHAT?!
Dog 1: Oh, shit, now he’s walking towards us.
Dog 2: Bark louder!
Dog 1: It’s not working Steve!
Dog 2: We have failed in our core purpose. Let’s go inside and reflect on our life choices.
It’s that kind of lack of terror that, if he keeps, will serve him in good stead in the future. That, and the confidence to wave at pretty women.
Rough and Tumble Goes Two Ways Now
A few weeks ago I wrote on being boisterous with my son by gently roughing him up a bit. The tables have turned somewhat.
The other day I was lying on the floor reading Monkey and Me for the four millionth time when, from nowhere, the boy ran up to my recumbent form and launched himself into a swan dive on my belly. After I got my breath back and finished admonishing myself for not having better abs with which to repel such attacks, I looked round to see him smiling in a smugly satisfied way.
It won’t be long before I’ll be going to hospital with cracked ribs. How do you explain that to a doctor? “My 13 month old child is beating me up”.
No, I’ll have to make up a lie about getting into a fight with a ladyboy over a kebab. Much less embarrassing. Probably.
He’s Stronger Than He Looks
The boy now has the grip strength to make taking things away from him a real struggle. The current objet désirable is a red umbrella kept by the front door.
He will wander around with it gripped like an assault rifle smashing into windows, chairs, crockery and, on one painfully memorable instance, my testicles.
Once we’ve had our fill of cracked plates, broken furniture and crushed reproductive organs we will obviously try to get the umbrella off of him.
What follows is a frankly emasculating tug of war for umbrella supremacy that can only be won by a combination of distraction (soft toys, tickling, nudging the cat towards him with a toe, etc.) and brute force.
Once the umbrella has been removed from his adamantium grip, a gulping sobbing wail will start up. It screams of frustration and anger.
It must be a similar level of crippling frustration to when you’re playing online Scrabble and all your letters are vowels and your so called friend is mocking you via the chat function and text messages.
So we’re talking way up there.
The difference is that he hasn’t learnt to drink his annoyances away yet.
As such, he will ball his fists and yell injustice, tears filling his eyes as he does. It is heartfelt and he is genuinely upset. Luckily, these are brief moments and can often be dispelled by making fart noises or offering a biscuit.
Freely Dispenses Hugs
If I’m sat on the floor the boy will occasionally make his way over and wrap his arms around my head, pulling me into his chest and hold me there, if I can see him in a mirror he is smiling broadly and contently, his heart fluttering under my ear.
And then, if I’m really lucky, he will squat down and give me a big dribbly kiss on the cheek.
That’s the best part of it all really; as he communicates more of his emotions and desires and needs he shows the person he is becoming.
A grumpy, willfull, demanding, funny, adventurous, loving little person.
And whilst I might be biased, I think he’s rather wonderful.