In the 13 months that we have had Lylah, Chris and I have always tried to maintain the idea that we can still do things like lunches out/family dinners/any nice occasion that you used to enjoy without a baby. There are the obvious ones that are a no go – the pub, cocktail bars and Las Vegas holidays being among them. Then there are the ones that a baby should be able to fit into quite easily. After all, there are lots of “family-friendly” places to go now, with all the bits and bobs you need, and if they don’t have them, well, you simply bring them along with you in your ten bags.
It is a Sunday afternoon in our house, daddy is relaxing and dozing on the sofa, Lylah is content with her big teddy, plastic carrot and apple and watching her favourite cartoon (lay off judgy people), and I’m sat typing this (don’t worry judgys, I will play with her shortly). However, today has not been this chilled out until pretty much now. We have just returned from a birthday lunch out, and as it traumatised me slightly, I thought I’d write about it.
I think today was the day when I realised I don’t have a baby anymore. I now have a full blown, tantrummy, whirlwind of a toddler. She is only 13 months, and I think it’s unfair that this has happened to me. They’re not meant to be terrible until they’re 2!! Did she turn 2 and I miss it? Has there been some kind of weird time travel event that passed me by while I was up to my eyes in baby washing last week? I look at Lylah now, and I don’t see a baby, I see a little girl. She is so determined and knows exactly what she wants, how she wants it, and most importantly mummy, WHEN she wants it! I read a great blog by Renegade Mothering (check it out, it’s brilliant) about her feeling awful about being judgy wudgy about screaming toddlers. She says how she always thought, after having a couple of lovely quiet ones, that there must be some pattern of awful parenting that leads to a toddler throwing a tantrum in public. Well, I’m ashamed to admit, that I probably thought the same thing in my old life. I used to think that I would be so calm and lovely and zen-like, that any baby of mine would be an angelic blob of loveliness, playing happily, giggling and eating everything I served up neatly and within seconds of me placing it in front of her.
How wrong was I? Lylah does play happily…once a day for about 30 seconds. She also giggles a lot, which is very cute, but is almost always accompanied by us having an energy fuelled play session in the house along with every toy she owns, lots of music, and me making endless funny faces and noises. She doesn’t/hasn’t ever/will probably never sit and eat quietly/happily/cleanly.
Chris and I got into the car after a traumatic couple of hours, looked at each other, and gave each other a high 5. A high flippin’ 5! That’s how proud of ourselves we were just to get through it. Lylah stared at us from the back seat with her grumpy little face wondering what all the fuss was about. Well Lylah, let me tell you…
We arrived having had a pleasant morning so far. Dressed in your gorgeous frock, purple patents and a clip in your hair, you napped in the car (perfect!) and woke with a smile on your face. Yes! Upon entering the venue, you had a look round, stared at a few people, and gradually felt happy enough to get down and explore. You drank some juice, sat in a big chair and were in a generally good mood.
I was slightly worried about the next bit. As you hate sitting in your high chair, I thought we may have a bit of trouble with you sitting in a chair contraption at the big table. You hated it at first, screaming every time we tried to pop you in, and stiffening those chubby little legs of yours. Eventually, you decided that you would sit down, happily munching on a bread stick from each hand, then grabbing the big spoon and banging it on the table for the next 15 minutes. I’m sure everyone was thrilled with your musical accompaniment Lylah; you have a talent! We took this opportunity to feed you some beef mush, which you liked, so phew! After nearly choking yourself with the chair’s straps by slipping down so far they came up to your neck, daddy took you outside. The resulting encounter with a peacock was just too much for you to bear, so I was surprised to see you return to me with a big smile on your face! The next hour and half was filled with you wanting to get down, then wanting to get up and running around the table to escape the party to explore the other rooms. You screamed when daddy lifted you and shouted when mummy sat you on her lap. You wouldn’t drink from your water bottle, but made every attempt possible to drink from an actual big person’s water receptacle.
I’m thankful we were sat with other mummies and babies, and so they would (hopefully) understand what we were going through. Their babies were being superbly well behaved, but they are not yet at toddler terror stage, so I told myself that if Lylah was still 8 months old, she would have been fine today. Thinking back, I’m not sure how much truth there is in that, but ah well!
We were also sat next to a pregnant lady and her husband, and with 4 weeks to go, I’m sure they are filled with excitement and anticipation at the arrival of their bundle of joy. I really hope that sitting next to us for 2 hours hasn’t scared the living daylights out of them.
In a tag team effort, we got through the rest of the lunch, and now I’m sat on a sofa (you hopefully now understand why we need this moment of calm), and thinking about it with hindsight, she wasn’t actually that bad. Anyway, she wasn’t bad at all, she was simply being a toddler. An exploring, curious, eager, determined, clever little girl who is excited at the world around her and despises highchairs, confinement and straps. Thank you Jamie, Adele and Brody, and your family and friends for having us today, and I apologise for the spoon banging.