“I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT”. Life with a toddler who can’t yet speak.

It’s sometimes a little difficult to be at home all day looking after another person. I do everything for this little person, help her sleep, bathe her, cuddle her, teach her. I put stuff in the top and then clean what comes out the bottom. It’s great and I’m very lucky. But at times, today especially, my patience wears thin.

This little person can’t speak, it’s a great big one way conversation. Sure, she can do syllables and is starting to get some words out now. She points. And when I don’t quite understand what she wants, she points and stamps her little feet. And when I still don’t get it she points, stamps her little feet, scrunches up her face and whines. We are having a communication breakdown.

She’s at the stage where she knows very well what she wants and she understands what I am saying to her. But I’m buggered if I know what she’s after half the time. Those perfect mothers out there (none of whom are my chums, thankfully) will no doubt be 100% in tune with their well-groomed offspring and have no such issue. But I’m not afraid to say that I am finding this frustrating. I’m used to being in control, being organised, getting stuff done and getting it done well. (HAHAHAHA! I am, of course, referring to my previous life when I had a job. And a pretty snazzy, fully-operating brain).

Take getting ready in the morning for example. She wants out of her cot, so I lift her (VERY carefully, due to this). Then she wants back in again. She wants her nappy changed but doesn’t want me to change her nappy. She can’t change her own nappy. Are you any good at changing nappies?

She wants clothes on, but wants to be naked. She wants to go outside but wants to do it in pyjamas and not a coat and wellies. She wants to get to the garden via the patio doors but not the back door, for those two doors seemingly lead to a different place….?

She is hungry but doesn’t want to eat. She likes to feed herself but with metal cutlery and definitely not plastic. She would rather eat my food from my plate than her food from hers (it’s the same food). She wants to sit in her highchair or maybe in her booster seat. She wants a fruit pot. No she doesn’t *splat*. Maybe a yoghurt? *splat*. She loves blueberries. Unless it’s Tuesday, in which case blueberries are the devil’s own fruit. She points and I reel off a list of items in the style of the Generation Game, in the hope that I might hit the jackpot. “A rice cake? A biscuit? A grape? A drink? A book? You want to go outside? Dance? Cuddle? A cuddly toy?”.

She has a snotty nose but woe betide anyone who tries to wipe it. She likes to wave to strangers (unless they have facial hair or hats. Sorry Santa, it’s not your year). She likes to go on the scary apparatus at Tumble Tots but only if the nice helper ladies don’t look at her while she’s climbing. She hates an audience. Except when she loves an audience.

She is 21 months old. Which means that we are approaching the *drum roll* terrible twos. I’m still pretty naive and assume that she won’t be hit by this. It’s mostly really amusing to watch her stamp her feet and to stick her bottom lip out. She’s so adorable and by no means a nightmare. But boy has she found her own mind all of a sudden.

I’ve noticed a couple of times lately that she’s purely done something to be naughty, to get a reaction. Like when she will catch my eye, look straight at me with a meaningful gaze, raise her hand and then fling whatever meal that I’ve lovingly prepared up in the air. I know that this is just to test the boundaries. So I ignore it and keep doing what I was doing (whilst planning in my head which Mr Muscle spray I will use with which cloth to clean the devastation). She can’t speak but if she did I bet she’d chuck her fruit on the floor and then say “how’dya like them apples?”.

Little monkey.

Isn’t it crazy to be out-manoeuvred by a 1-year-old?

She’s testing my patience a lot of late. I’m taking lots of deep breaths. It takes half an hour to get her dressed, usually involving a rugby tackle that the All-Blacks would be proud of. The same for a nappy. Bathtime can be treacherous. She’ll escape out of her PJs umpteen times before she concedes that she’s tired and passes out, half-dressed. It’s a constant game of toddler-chess, of me trying to fox her with a move and her beating me hands down. I’m already trying the trusty parenting technique of bribery….”If you want this then you need to do this“.

I hope that she can speak a little bit soon. At least then she might be able to articulate what she’s after and I’ll no longer find myself exclaiming, like a loony “I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT”.

In the meantime, I need to have patience and smile my way through the challenges. Take a deep breath, stop and try to figure out what on earth she wants. Mind you, I’m pretty sure that my husband would say exactly the same about me.


(Parenting advice supplied by Q-Tip)