PARENTS

Toddler Tales: The Panic Button

24/01/2012 14:08 | Updated 22 May 2015
Toddler Tales: The panic buttonSafer than standing up and trying to fling herself from the high chair, I guess...

Yesterday, I bit off a piece of lime green crayon in Giraffe, chewed and swallowed it - all in the name of toddler safety.

Since Diana had just bitten off and swallowed a huge chunk before me, I wanted to make sure we didn't need to call poison control and that the coloured crayons weren't toxic. Hi, I am officially a lunatic, but I feel OK about advertising it: I am convinced this is what happens to all mothers who have a toddler.

As Diana gets older, each day is a new adventure: she is getting more curious, taking more risks and discovering new things - both new abilities that she has and new places to explore (she can scramble onto couches and chairs, reach for the doorknob and grab at anything and everything on most surfaces on her tip-toes).

While there is a sense of calm that she is so much more capable than she once was as a helpless, mainly immobile babe, her new boldness and independence come at a cost: I am constantly panicking about her safety.

Putting anything and everything in her mouth is Diana's classic move these days. Last Friday, the rational side of my mind told me that there was no way that she could have poisoned herself with shampoo ("I was watching her, she didn't drink any!") while the hysterical lunatic inside me screamed: "What is that smell?! Does her MOUTH smell of shampoo?"

Diana meanwhile, was laughing, playing, and eating as usual, oblivious to my inner breakdown - and clearly not in need of the stomach pumping I was envisioning in my head. But sometimes it's like I can't trust my eyes, instincts, or reality - I am just so desperate for my child to be safe that I end up driving myself mad.

I do wonder if now is an appropriate moment to lose my mind - surely I need to be firing on all cylinders to tame my self-destructive child? Until last week, when I figured out that lowering the high chair and cramming it right up against the kitchen table could prevent the fugitive escaping, she would wriggle around and stand up (despite being strapped in), put her arms out and prepare to jump off.

She even hurled herself off the changing table - when I bent down to get a pair of socks for her - and thankfully, landed on her bum. But it's terrifying to be in charge of this small person who seems desperate to get injured or ill at any opportunity. Don't I need some kind of qualification for this?

The other night, as I was getting dinner ready, D put her feet up on the kitchen table.

Table manners are so far down the list of concerns at this point that I didn't even attempt to reprimand her. Frankly, I was happy. It was such a relief to see her sitting down when she was supposed to be and eating actual food instead of something potentially hazardous that I didn't mind at all.

It was only when she started reaching under the table to feed Bolshy that I realised I now need to worry about him getting poisoned, too.

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