This morning, I was supposed to be cleaning but I thought, nah, and watched tv for a bit before going out to meet a friend and do a bit of outdoor toy shopping. I have bought a phlat ball, some giant skittles, a giant "odd" ball, and a foam rocket shooter. And, that, my friends, is why the rain has come back. Sorry and all that.
So, I am back on target now. I have regained control over a couple of aspects of life (mainly the children's life) that were troubling me. And I dug out my copy of "Toddler Taming". Now, I have mixed thoughts about this book. I LOVE his older book, for 5-12 year olds. THAT is awesome. This one however, does trouble my sensibilities with lots of references to controlled crying and "the patented rope trick method" - involving, basically, roping the door so it only slightly opens, scary stuff :/
However, if I ignore all the stuff I don't like, it's not a bad book. It is very much into gentle guiding and diversion tactics, alongside passages explaining normal toddler behaviour and why it really doesn't matter, DO NOT PROD THE LION just tiptoe gently past ;p
So, having read a bit of the book the other night (before being interrupted by a toddler falling out of bed and therefore needing to sleep with me for the rest of the night, obviously), I reassessed my handling of the Jessica situation. It is not that I am a bad parent, or that she is a difficult child. It is simply that she is different to Adam, and I never quite expected it. She kind of blind-sided me. There I was, senior nursery practitioner, had a delightful 6 year old who had his moments but overall I figured I had done pretty well with despite him not being planned and me being only 20 and a single parent. So, a planned child, at 27, with 4 years nursery experience under my belt and a partner. No problems. Then, along came Jessica. Who is so different to Adam it is not even funny. She was clingy when he wasn't, yet settled in nursery far quicker than he ever did. She ate everything and anything, but now has suddenly stopped. She never played on her playmat, hated the door bouncer, kicked over the gym, and hardly entertained anything that even vaguely resembled a toy. She has tantrums that last 2 hours, whatever you do to try and stop them, and she never really knows what she wants anyway so you couldn't give in to her even if you wanted to. Except, of course, for the famous chocolate cake incident. When her delightful brother promised her chocolate cake if she came in the room.Only there was no chocolate cake. And a hurried look through Nana's cupboards revealed nothing she was willing to be pacified with. That tantrum was a long one, and a loud one, even my Dad was in shock. It has to be said, Adam has never repeated this "joke".
So, after reading my book, I have figured that really, I just need to go with it and not try to change her. She is beautiful and clever and extremely funny, and she is truly an individual. She just likes attention. She doesn't want to play with toys, or watch me do things. She wants to do things, with me or her brother she's not too fussy, unless she can tell she is being passed off onto her brother because Mummy is doing something that looks far more interesting. Tonight, I was making "cereal bars" (they look more like flapjacks to me but the recipe says they are cereal bars, so we'll agree to disagree, and it makes them sound as healthy as they surprisingly are). And she was stood next to me pulling on my legs and pointing at random things in the kitchen. Which, usually I would respond to by giving her the food she was pointing to or saying "no Jessica you can not have the kettle". But I realised I was being dumb, she just wanted attention. So, I sat her on the worktop and she helped me cook. She kept tipping the ingredients on the top rather than in the bowl, but we just scooped them up afterwards. And then, when it got to the part where I needed to use boiling sauce in a pan, because I had included her all this time, she was quite happy to go see Adam "just while Mummy does the hot burn part". Now, I'm not saying she is now all of a sudden placid. I had to blockade the kitchen door to stop her throwing milk all over my carpet, comb her hair whilst she laid down on her bed kicking and screaming at me, and put her nappy on whilst she performed various contortion acts with her body. But, I did it with a smile on my face. Because, that is normal for her. That is her normal behaviour. And she's probably going to be an extremely confident and strong-willed adult. And if I do my best to give her the attention she needs, and remember that she is not the same as toddler Adam, then really everything will be fine. It will be chaotic and loud and funny, but it will be fine. I am not doing anything wrong, it is just different. That is the problem I had, I think. Everybody kept telling me I was so good with Adam, that I felt like I had to be perfect with Jessica. And with everybody watching, how could I feel confident enough to change the approach that I had used with Adam? Now, I am confident enough to know it is not the approach that needs changing, just the tactics. The approach is still the same - love them for who they are and respect their right to a personality. It worked for Adam, it will work for Jessica.
Anyway, because SOMEBODY commented on my facebook in a surprised fashion that I could cook, I took pictures.
You know when you cut "flapjack" up and it crumbles, well, you just have to eat all the pieces that aren't really square, don't you?
So yes, today has been a good day. And I haven't done anything extraordinary, I've not taken them to a theme park or spent a shedload of money on an expensive climbing frame. But they've gone to bed happy, and life is good.
Actually, I'm in a sharing mood. Here are more pictures:
Jessica helping to load the washing machine - early training to prevent her flooding her house in the future AKA Rachel Saville.
Jessica learning to drink from a big girl cup, hence her being trapped in the kitchen away from the carpet........