In a former life, long before In The Night Garden marathons and synchronized bacon sandwich and Peppa Pig viewing sessions, I used to have a responsible job where people listened to and acted upon what I said. These days I find myself in the centre aisle of the Co-op pleading with my son to stop crying because I won’t buy him a full-sized carpet cleaning system.
Yes, that happened.
It had been a few minutes, three maybe. I looked at him, as encouragingly as I could, and spoke.
“OK, that’s good. It’s easy, just one, two, three and push.”
I’d tried to hide any stress (rapidly growing within me) from my voice.
My son looked back at me, seemingly unconvinced.
“We can have a cuddle when you come down the slide.”
“Just go down!” chimed in a boy, about twice the age of my son – part of the growing queue for the slide forming behind my little one.
“He’ll go when he’s ready,” I said, once again trying to appear calm – reminding myself that empathy isn’t a skill kids are born with. “Just one, two, three and push!”
It was going to be a long day.
This I just don’t get. If I present an item to my son, on his favourite plate, there’s a 50/50 chance of his eating it. If, however, I get the same item and throw it on the floor… 100% certain he’ll pick it up and munch away happily.
For some reason, toddlers want to put everything in their mouths. So any walk in the park, trip across town or visit to the supermarket is perpetually punctuated with me saying: “Take that out of your mouth! We don’t eat off the floor”.
Leaves, rocks, bits of twig, squashed chips & a whole assortment of litter have all been whisked from his grubby little mitts just before he attempted to eat them. If I’m honest, there have been several times when I didn’t get there quickly enough – so these items have had to be wrestled from between stubbornly closed lips. He, of course, thinks this is hilarious – while all I can think of is a potential night of projectile vomiting should he catch some lurgy or other.
I remember his mother and I would discuss, in those oft-remembered (much missed) quiet relaxed evenings before our son was born, television’s role in our household. We’d pretty much decided that our offspring would never be sullied by exposure to the telly. Equally he’d never touch sugar, only eat organic and spend his life with well-thought through educationally relevant play.