Sunday, December 09, 2007

set the controls for the heart of my son...

Today has been exhausting. We’ve been gearing up for this day for a long time, although we probably didn’t quite realise it. I suppose I should have been listening harder to my Mother and to Those Who Have Gone Before, who have all been very clear that at some point you stop having a baby and you start having an individual – a child with its own will and desires who will no longer sit around adoringly letting you do things to it, like dress it or feed it or put teething gel on its sore gums, or cuddle it when you feel like it. A child who would rather starve in charge of its own fork than accept a spoonful from its Mum. A child who will not longer let you simply haul it up for a butt-sniffing but would rather tool around in its own stink than submit to the indignity of a clean bottom. A child who when swooped up for a cuddle after a nasty fall will stop crying and start pushing its parent in the neck to get put down NOW thank you very much rather than receive the Mummy Mantra (“Mummy Make It Better (kiss)”).

Along with this new-found independent streak is an ever-increasing diagnostic ability, massively heightened curiosity and a remarkable ability to reach and grab given the enormous height of this child. This particular child, I mean, as in my child, as in the spud, who is now virtually unstoppable and as willful as a raccoon in a bin full of chicken wings. My child, who suddenly doesn’t give a damn what I think, or say or do and who is only interested in following whatever whim has taken his attention. My child who was recently described by a fellow Mum as ‘a gentle giant, but a giant none-the-less’. On today’s evidence, I think we may have to quietly stow that ‘Gentle’ for a while.

I’ve had a pretty productive week and one of the things I managed to get done was to sew some snugly bumpers for the spud’s cot. Thinking that he is now old enough to get out of trouble on his own should he find himself nose first in the fabric and that the main reason he wakes up in the night is because he’s bicycled himself head-first into the bars, we figured some padding might help us all get a better night’s sleep. So, I wandered over to the market and bought some soft black fleece and some padding and diligently sewed them up much to his fascination. He tried to turn the machine off while I was sewing, tried to stand on the foot pedal, tried to touch the fly-wheel while it was spinning and desperately begged to sit in my lap while I was feeding fabric underneath a rapidly moving needle.

Surprisingly, it all worked and he is now peacefully sleeping with his head jammed into a corner of his cot, breathing gently and crucially, not waking up with a head injury. The bumpers also serve double duty as they block a sliver of light from underneath the black-out blinds I’ve never managed to sort out. I know, because I have doubled over into his cot and rested my head upside-down on his mattress for a look-see. I quite fancied staying in there for a snooze to be honest but I don’t think I’d fit.

So, he’s getting a good night’s sleep which seems to be giving him an amazing energy boost. He slept until nearly 8 today, played happily in his cot for half an hour after his bottle and cheerfully trundled around the flat most of the morning. Once out of bed and fed his breakfast he rounded up the remote control and handed it to his Dad with the little call of ‘eh eh’ he makes which means ‘please turn on the TV’. I was once a person who swore I would not let my children watch TV however now I am a person who catches myself in the middle of a business meeting with the ‘Finley the Fire Engine’ theme song running through my head. So, anyway, he sat down to watch TV for a moment or two and then he got down and turned his bedroom inside out, tried to open a locked door by fiddling with the key, turned all the electronics he could reach on and then off and then on again, pulled things off the top of the hall table that we didn’t think he could reach and turned on every lamp in the house.

Nothing that we do escapes his attention. One can think that one has pulled the wool over his eyes but a few moments later, when he thinks one isn't looking, he has insinuated himself as close to whatever it was one was doing and is trying manfully to replicate the motions. He is very close to working out the lock on the stair-gate and he can spend long periods of time crouched in front of the front door with my keys thrusting them at the bottom lock in hope. Things go into the washing machine. Books are opened and puzzled at. Watches are looked at hopefully. Glasses are put on his face. Hats are perched precariously on his head. My hair ties are pulled behind his head. PIN entry pads for credit cards are to be stabbed at, but only after the card is pulled out of the machine and then shoved back in again which is great fun for the queue of people behind me in the shop. Tops are screwed onto bottles and off again. Cups are carefully picked up and sipped from before being knocked over on the way to open the fridge.

His natural exuberance is lovely. He can be made to laugh at very simple things, such as watching me fall backwards the length of the flat after he shoves me, or watching me weep in dismay as he knocks down yet another tower of bricks (and, damnit, I get quite possessive over my towers of bricks these days. Who knew bricks were such fun?).

He does, however, hate to be stopped once he’s decided to do something and as a full 50% of the things he decides to do are destructive (eating the phone), dangerous (standing on the coffee table) or both (slamming his fingers in the top drawer while taking out spoons to throw in the bin) he is stopped on a fairly regular basis and this is bringing out the exuberant side of his rage. This takes one of two forms – either he sits down on the floor and slumps his head between his knees (something he does less frequently since he tried it out in the bath) or he lies down and arches his back, a pose he can hold for an impressive amount of time.

There’s no point in going through all the other things he did today, the pens chewed, the food thrown, the tantrums in the supermarket, the kitchen things tossed on the floor, the cat tormented, the suspicious blockage in the loo. There’s no point in going on about how many times he struggled or screamed or flailed around and how many times I was forced to put on my big 'no' face.

Much as he exhausts me, it is an amazing thing to watch one's child become a reasoning individual and hopefully he'll start taking control of a few more useful things such as putting on his shoes and making his own dinner. All we have until then however is one little boy who just wants to be in control of something, to do something all by himself; and, if the bumpers work their magic again tonight, he will be doing it all again tomorrow with just as much gusto.

Sayonara!

29 comments:

Driving With the Brakes On said...

So very well expressed. Despite having a very independent toddler, I had forgotten just how delightful (and I do use that term as lightly as humanly possible) this phase can be. My almost-1-year-old is now starting to refuse diaper changes, being strapped into her carseat, being fed from a spoon - a female Charlie, if you will. So frustrating at moments, but also so incredible to watch. The fact that these little tiny, helpless beings grow into such amazing (and loud and destructive)people . . . no wonder people continue to have babies. Although, that phenomenon could also be explained by the wine drunk in hopes of forgetting the long, long days spent minding an inquisitive child.

DJ Kirkby said...

Lol what a great kid and what a great mom. I think Spud is incredibly throughtful to go to all this effort simply to provide you with blog fodder...on a completly idfferent topic, I have given you an award (gagggishly twee pic on it but an award none the less).

Jennie said...

YOU SEW???!!! On top of riding a motorbike, using cloth nappies, washing butt wipes, YOU SEW???!!! Stop putting me to shame already.

Suki said...

Wow, beautiful post. I love the way your writing goes all fast and hyper when you write about the Spud being that way. It's almost like being there watching him at it!

Big hugs to him.. er, when he wants them :)

Jonny's Mommy said...

OK. As a first time mommy, I thought maybe my kid was the only crazy little human doing all these types of things. Breathing a sigh of relief, I now realize that he isn't. Thanks for reassuring me in only the way you can! With laughter!

Sparx said...

DWTBO! Very funny - it does sound like you have a female spudlette on your hands - good luck! It is amazing though and something I wouldn't miss for anything. That and the wine, of course...! Great to see you!

Sparx said...

DJ - thanks for the award and the kind words, I really appreciate it, I love your blog so much as well. I think much the same about N3S, he's very generous with his blog material provision as well! I guess we're just unstoppable Mums really. Great to see you!

Sparx said...

Jenny - what are you on about? You do LOADS!! And LOADS!!! AND you have two kids! I constantly nick things of you so stop it! Great to see you!

Sparx said...

Suki - thanks! I have to go back and read what I wrote now to see if I did speed up! Maternal enthusiasm I guess... I'll pass along the hug when he's ready - got a good one today so perhaps it's not all the time... great to see you!

Sparx said...

Jonny's Mum - judging by some of the things I've been told, we're pretty normal! It does seem mad though, doesn't it? Great to see you!

Sparx said...

Hi Sue - I do think they block the breeze that sometimes comes through one of his windows when it's really windy. I would imagine that they trap some heat but as they only go about 6 inches higher than the mattress it could be minor. It's quite cosy in there though, I think they'd be quite comfy to sleep next to and would store body heat if you lay against them. They were easy to do and you can buy them, maybe give it a go? Great to see you!

Sparx said...

Sue - I just deleted a comment (one of mine) and it seems I deleted yours by mistake, I'm so sorry, it wasn't meant! At least I responded before I made the mistake...

ALF said...

Found you blog from djkirkby's - just stopped by to say hi!

Sparx said...

Hi Alf! I'll drop by to say hi to you too!

Elsie Button said...

i feel quite exhaused too, reading all that! What a busy boy he's been! you put it all so well - and i know exactly how you feel! and although exhausting, it is bloody incredible watching things develop and unfold! What a brilliant little character he is!

Sparx said...

I bet you know exactly how I feel! Betty seems to be a character and a half as well - you do make me laugh. Great to see you.

Jen said...

I totally sympathize, as I am going through it all myself. There are no surfaces that Dylan can't reach at this point. I sometimes think I will have to install shelving along the top 6 inches of every wall in the house, just to place things! Is the spud's kissing phase over already?! That was much too fast.

ilana (Helen) Pengelly said...

"My child, who suddenly doesn’t give a damn what I think, or say or do and who is only interested in following whatever whim has taken his attention."

Remember that this is a phase. It lasts from now until the Spud has a baby of his own.

Don't believe me? Read my most recent posts on pengellypastimes.blogspot.com

ilana (Helen) Pengelly said...

"...pulled things off the top of the hall table that we didn’t think he could reach"

I remember this too. At some point all my 'stuff' was moved up about 2 feet. Then another 2 feet .... and then I realized that another 2 feet would mean I couldn't reach anything! That's when everything went into hiding.

I should be able to repatriate it sometime before they leave home, right?

Creekers said...

o my love...

won't say you were muchhte same, but the spud is definitely a chip off the female block...

Be patient - I think he is as intelligent as his mother and father (maybe more so) and as such will either inspire and educate you, or drive you God knows where...and I think it will be the former

Hoto said...

Be strong. Be firm. Establish boundaries. Punish freely. Reward sparingly. The best parents we know, with the smartest and best behaved children we know, are the toughest, without being brutal (see Colin and Rhea (Johnny's bro and sis-in law).

The best line I heard recently was from a comic: "Recently my daughter asked me: 'Daddy: if you were holding onto my sister and I in a Tsunami wave, and had to let one of us go because you weren't strong enough, which one would you let go?'. 'Simple', I replied, 'the one who didn't clean up her room...'".

Sparx said...

Jen - no, he's still kissing, although he's being more choosy now that it's not such a new and interesting thing! We're trying to teach the spud not to play with everything as we just don't have room to put things up! Great to see you!

Sparx said...

Helen - oh my goodness me! I guess I knew this was coming... Love the idea of you putting things up until you can't reach! Presumably given your sons' encroaching height they'll be able to put things up out of YOUR reach soon! Tee hee! Great to see you, will pop by PP for a visit.

Sparx said...

Creekers - hello there, parental units! Well, I applaud you for not using this as a platform for crowing or saying things such as 'serves you right' or 'now you know what you did to us' or any of those other salient points which you are firmly entitled to make... Nice to have you posting over here!

Sparx said...

Hoto - v amusing... I'll remember that if ever the spud asks me something related... It's a hot potato the punishment issue... so far we're using the old '1-2-3 isolate' routine and he hasn't let us get to '3' in a while so I guess it's working. Not in the supermarket, however... Here's to internet shopping!

Joni said...

Haven't stopped in for some time, but glad I did. It reminds me why I'm glad my two boys are 11 and 8 yrs. now...ha!

I'm glad you're able to enjoy it all, even in the midst of the nonstop action. It really goes by all too quickly.

Self employed mum said...

Incredible the things they pick up so young, learning everyday. x

Sparx said...

Hi Joni - great to see you again. I guess you've got a whole host of different stuff going on with your kids now hey?

Sparx said...

Self Employed Mum - I know - amazing and exhausting... great to see you.