14 (and a bit) months
Ummm... who is this little girl and what has she done with my baby?
Life with a 14 month old Lalie Bug is fun, exhausting, hilarious, challenging, beautiful, chaotic, happy, not-so-happy, turbulent, adventurous, unpredictable and evolving at rapid speed. I'm struggling to keep up! (hence my poor effort on the blogging front lately).
There are so many beautiful, sweet moments but I am finding now, more than ever, there is an added dose of absolute misery. Poor babe is in the midst of some serious teething, and to add insult to injury she's also cutting back to one day sleep. The combination of over-tiredness and teething symptoms makes for a Lalie who isn't always the most pleasant company. When she's feeling good, she is pure joy. When she's grumpy, she's an absolute nightmare!
I have to admit, the emergence of a tantrum throwing toddler caught me totally off guard. I thought we were a good ten months clear of the 'terrible two's'. Apparently not. Don't be fooled by her cute, coy demeanor... if you don't give her what she wants, she will throw herself on the floor, screaming and banging her head on the floorboards. At first, I was completely shocked by this behaviour, and in desperate attempts to assert some kind of authority, I met her with equal drama in my voice and actions - which of course only exacerbated the situation. I have since learned that taking her away to a different area, getting down to her level and talking very sternly and direct to her about her behaviour seems to have the most positive outcome. Now I am (mostly) able to divert the situation pretty quickly before we get to the back-arching, head-banging stage. She's certainly exploring and testing boundaries, and I know that it's very important to give her the freedom to do so, but I am also very conscious of this being a crucial stage for setting those boundaries. And despite her being so small, I am also aware that she understands more than enough to handle a little discipline. Being firm with her feels strangely and unexpectedly good, it even seems to be doing her some good as well. She doesn't dispute my tone - she stops, listens intently and follows up with affectionate gestures like hugging or kissing me which seems to imply she's sorry, without being asked. I'd almost go as far to say that our bond has been strengthened, and I'm sensing that Lalie is feeling very secure within the family unit. Of course, there's still tantrums, they're just not quite as... epic.
There's a lot of tears, but there's a lot of laughter too. She's such a quirky little thing, and I spend most of the day trying to conceal my amusement at all the ridiculously cute things she does*. Suddenly I have this toddler who understands just about everything and is becoming so clear at communicating her wants and needs. She's a chatty little thing, exploring her voice and developing a little vocabulary consisting mostly of words beginning with B (book / 'boo', bag / 'baa', blue / 'boo', bubba, birdy / 'bidi'.. and has an impressive crack at banana / 'ba ba ba' and butterfly / 'bit bu ba'). I'm still waiting for her to call me Mama, instead she opts for 'bubba' (which paddy so often calls me). But that's okay, being this bubba's 'bubba' is pretty sweet indeed - and despite my whinging, I am grateful every day for the chance to be spending all my minutes with this sweet, funny, determined little girl.
* so as not to offend her while she's doing very serious and grown-up things like walking around with handbags, using a spoon as a phone, blowing her nose on a wash cloth, hanging out laundry on the drying rack etc etc. She takes all these things VERY seriously!