Three Into Four: When Baby Becomes A Toddler

Little Toddler Looking Up at Mother and Making Mess
Little Toddler Looking Up at Mother and Making Mess

With my older daughter now in school, I have been looking forward to spending some much-needed one-on-one time with my 20-month-old baby, Liv.

It was only after seeing her in a photo the other day (funny how you sometimes can't see these changes in person), with the front part of her hair pulled up in an elastic band, wearing a not-so-old dress that used to belong to Diana that it hit me: she's not a baby anymore. She's a little girl.

Welcome to toddler-ville.

This is bittersweet for me: I love watching my baby grow up and seeing her become more and more independent, but a part of me misses the baby-baby days (even the breastfeeding!)

Maybe it's because I might not experience that newborn feeling again. Or maybe I'm just a masochist who can't enjoy something I've been craving for years and am only just glimpsing again: my own independence (well, periods of it, at least).

Clearly, my recent sleeping-through-the-nights for the past few months must be getting to me. Hilariously, now that D has gone to school, Liv is even willing to nap in the day so I have gone from frenetic and sleep-deprived to finding I have time to read articles in the newspaper again.

Instead of making me saner, I think I'm losing it: I've been overcompensating for this free time by taking on more work than my childcare allows. Why can't I just relax?

Anyway, my mental issues aside, Liv is a toddler! In fact, the way she acts sometimes, it's as if she's trying to bypass this stage and race to catch up with her older sister.

Liv is even more addicted to bags, shoes and accessories than Diana (I didn't think that could be possible!). She walks around the house dragging D's school bag around, in full possession of the knowledge that this is stolen, essential – and therefore highly desirable – property.

Unless she's walking in my heels, she prefers to walk in D's shoes (the silver sparkly ones, naturally) rather than her own less exciting ones.

Liv is also into the same kinds of games as D, already pushing prams around and cuddling dollies. In fact, she spends a lot of her time trying to take D's dolls and then shouting: "D share! Me doll! D share!" whenever D (quite rightfully, I think) tries to get them back.

The other day Liv looked at me, said "poo," and sat down on the potty (I'd taken it out of the cellar because she has been climbing onto the toilet seat in a desperate attempt to take potty training into her own hands).

And then she pooed - just like that. No bribes, no fuss, no tears and barely an interest in a reward. I gave her a sticker – she responded with an eye roll – and then I let her put on a pair of D's old and outgrown hot pink panties.

The kid looked at me like I'd given her a toy store.

"Me D! Me D!" she started screaming delightedly.

Oh, now I get it. The reward is getting D's stuff. That's the motivation for everything - and perhaps the reason she's trying to do all of these things ahead of her time (Liv had scooted down the street and ridden on the buggy board a few times by the age of 18 months. Competently, I might add).

Just to put this in context, D had no desire to use her scooter (a second birthday present) until she was on the other side of two-and-a-half.

(Side note: I am now convinced that all of my failings and laziness in life can be attributed to the fact I never had an older sibling to spur me on).

Unfortunately, the wearing-D's-panties situation turned sour when I insisted Liv take them off and put on a nappy for her nap (one fluked poo in a potty does not a potty-trained child make!)

She flew into a screaming toddler rage (another new sign that babyhood is behind us and terrible two-dom upon us!) and wouldn't stop uncontrollably sobbing. Not ideal...

Which is how my child became the kid who wears pants over nappies. Whatever works, right? I may be out of the baby phase, but I'm at the beginning of a whole new adventure and I'm still getting to grips with things...