PARENTS

Toddler Tales: Toddler Pals

13/03/2012 12:59 | Updated 22 May 2015
Toddler friendsA toddler friendship at its most idyllic...

Diana is becoming quite the social butterfly of the toddler set lately, and between playgroups and play dates, she's accumulated a lot of friends.

With the exception of Diana's constant companion and BFF, Bolshy the bulldog, D's friends can be divided into three different categories.

My friends, who generally worship D (or at least pretend to in my presence, even when she does something slightly appalling, which is how I know they're pretending).

Usually, in front of these friends, D assumes her attention-seeking Kardashian sister persona (simultaneously hilarious and horrifying), in which she pretends that she's starring in her own reality series.

She'll run around in circles, she'll dance and twirl and she'll stare poignantly at the friend in question until said person erupts in a smile and coos at her with a loving phrase or two. Liberal compliment-giving (one-sided, since D's verbal skills are still limited) does seem to be a requirement of these friendships.

Then there are the friends D stalks. These friends tend to be slightly older girls whom Diana hero-worships and adores, following them around like an eager puppy. Thankfully, older girls like babies and toddlers, so this is a particularly strong demographic for D to target; she usually shows her interest to this set with lots of hugging, waving and eyelash-batting.

And, of course, there are the friends her own age. These friendships – in good times – are like an idyllic picture book come to life. There's cuddling and hugging and giggling and hand-holding. Everyone is happy, and you feel like an award-winning parent watching your toddler in action.

In bad times, these friendships can be more brutal than a scene out of Mean Girls. There's fighting over toys, cranky behaviour, possessiveness problems, and sobbing tantrums, usually over high-stakes issues like who's going to eat the last grape. There's hair pulling, hitting (which starts out playful and somehow ends up resembling a wrestling match with the children in chokeholds) and screaming.

Sometimes, the toddlers decide they're utterly disinterested in one another for no apparent reason, and they will spend their entire time together ignoring one another. In a roomful of new toys, books, snacks, and their mums, it's possible that the least enticing thing is the fellow child sitting inches away from them.

On the plus side, these occasions serve the added bonus of giving parents some much-needed adult conversation time. Which they'll use to discuss whether their kids are interacting well or not.

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