PARENTS

Toddler Tales: Uh-Oh

21/02/2012 20:24 | Updated 22 May 2015
Toddler Diana walking the dogLook who's walking the dog!

Diana's vocabulary is expanding with ferocious rapidity, and last week, she learned the interjection: 'Uh-oh.' It has swiftly become her favourite (only?) expression, and she uses it whenever she drops anything, falls over or pulls her bunches out ('Uh-oh, uh-oh, UH-OH!').

It's fitting that D's newest word reflects how I'm feeling most of the time these days. A lot of things in my life are 'Uh-oh.'

Balancing work/baby/house/husband's seemingly never-ending pile of laundry, worrying about whether I'm failing at everything or deserve a pat on the back for doing the best I can, and the day-to-day concerns that come with a growing toddler who is learning to speak – and act – her mind more and more with each passing moment are all rather demanding issues I am constantly trying to reconcile.

Actually, uh-oh is probably a rather euphemistic way of expressing how I'm feeling most of the time; a spattering of expletives followed by exclamations is probably more true to life, but less toddler (who's imitating everything I say these days) friendly.

The past couple of weeks, D has been increasingly demanding about going outside – sans buggy of course – and has been flinging herself against the front door in desperation or bringing me her coat at 9pm to get her dressed for a walk.

This isn't because she's been cooped up in the house 24/7; on the contrary, she is out in the park or walking on the pavement twice a day on average. No, D is obsessed with the outdoors because she has decided that she would like to take over the family dog-walking duties.

This would be amusing for me if I saw it on a television programme, especially because walking Bolshy has become even less glamorous (and a more lamentable task) than usual. He is idler than ever, sleeps all day and refuses to walk, which means that I throw my back out trying to drag his now-obese-from-inertia frame down the street twice a day.

Unfortunately, since it's happening in my life on a daily basis and not to some over-paid, Hollywood version of me, it's all stress and mayhem. Every morning, D runs to grab Bolshy's harness, jumper and lead and starts frantically chasing the dog around the kitchen to trap him. If she's holding my hand in the street, she'll suddenly stop, throw a massive sobbing tantrum and push me out of the way, trying to grab Bolshy's lead from my hand.

While part of me would relish the thought of handing over some of the Bolshy responsibility to my eager 18-month-old, the rational side of me realises that D is half of Bolshy's size and for all her zeal, won't be able to contribute much to our walks.

D has proven this herself when she's grabbed onto Bolshy's extendable lead at home and run through the house with it, thinking he is behind her, only to turn around and disappointingly realise the dog, who hasn't budged from his place, is looking bored and annoyed.

Well, as you can see from the picture above, after the mid-street tantrum which taught me that I can never ever leave the house by myself with dog, baby and no buggy, I let D 'walk' Bolsh in the park for a few steps, which went surprisingly well until Bolsh stopped to drink from an ice puddle and D decided to sit in it. Their walk swiftly ended, and D's 43rd tantrum of the 15-minute period we'd been outside commenced.

But that's the real 'Uh-oh' in my life these days: the showdowns Diana and I are starting to have. The dog drama is just one manifestation of our mother-daughter beefin'. It's normal of course; she's trying to push boundaries and I'm trying to lay down the law, but since neither one of us quite knows how to assert our positions in the most effective way - yet - my toddler ends up walking the dog in the park as I tear my hair out, cursing my parental failures.

Diana's Daddy is particularly fond of our showdowns and delights in saying things like: "I'm going to let you two work this battle of wills out," (helpful) or "Are you two beefin' again? Admit Diana never fights with me."

It's true. Diana never agitates her father for one simple reason: he gives into her every whim and demand, and for all his talk of being a firm disciplinarian, he has the softest touch I've ever seen.

What can I say? Uh-oh. You know I'm thinking something much worse.

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