We’re a bit shell-shocked here at the moment. Eleanor has been, generally, a pretty happy, polite and remarkably compliant child. We’ve had problems, of course – sleep problems, tantrums and breastfeeding issues – but nothing major or unusual. Of course, there’s nothing particularly unusual happening now, but it’s still come as a shock.
Because Eleanor is discovering the appeal of independence and the joys of boundary pushing. Apart from the waking up at 4.15 every morning for close to a fortnight now, which is really really messing with my head, she’s started deliberately doing the opposite of what we want her to do over the last few days.
She’s not allowed in the office on her own (mostly because there’s a dangerous window, but also because of work and computers and wires and stuff), so she is constantly running up the stairs to the office.
When it’s time to get dressed, she’s mostly running away and needs to be chased round the room – or the house – to catch her. If there’s time, we can put her in the girls’ room with her nappy and clothes and she’ll get dressed on her own (because she loves doing things herself and hates having to get help); if there’s less time, we can give the clothes to Rosemary and she can usually persuade her to get dressed; sometimes, though, time runs out and there’s schools and/or nursery schools to get to and the only thing that works is to hold her still and put her clothes on her – kicking and screaming be damned.
She has started taking her shoes off while out and about – sitting down on the pavement and taking them off, taking them off in the park (something she’s been allowed to do in the summer, so less of a surprise) and this morning she refused to put them on and took them off about five times before I said (OK, shouted) I’d just put them in the bag and carry her, which would mean she wouldn’t be able to walk on any walls or walk up the hill – as soon as these consequences were pointed out to her, she wanted to put them on.
She also seems to want to do everything and try everything and is getting a bit conflicted or perhaps confused about what to do at any given time – she’ll get out the blocks and be building towers, then spot the blackboard out of the corner of her eye and run off to draw on it, then she’ll decide it’s time to hide and seek, or that she’s going to wash her hands or brush her teeth. She’ll want immediate gratification in most things – she’ll be eating some toast and decide she wants noodles, then strawberries and then something else and something else… Often there are four or five half-eaten things on her plate at the end of breakfast time. Oh, yes, and she’s worked out how to open the fridge. It involves dragging a chair over to it and climbing up and pulling hard until the door opens. So far, all she’s managed to get out is a satsuma, but it’s only a matter of time before she pours a carton of juice all over the floor or gets the butter down and digs into it with a spoon (for some reason she likes to eat spoonfuls of butter – Rosemary used to, as well).
The worst one, though, is running off when out and about. Today, on a corner, she ran off down one street when we were going up the other (on the pavement, thankfully). She got a good way along before I caught her. She ran off into the playground when Rosemary was going into school. She tried to run off into playgroup (she doesn’t start there until next September!), then up the slope to one of the doors. When we got to the park, I told her there was no time to go into the play park and that it was too wet, anyway. She ran off into the play park and managed to climb all the way up to the top of the little play house (on the roof, this is) before I caught her. She went on my shoulders the rest of the way to nursery (and had a cry because she couldn’t go to the Co-op, another because she couldn’t go to the doctor and another because she couldn’t go to the library). When I picked her up after lunch, we popped into town to get her feet measured (I had thought perhaps she was taking her shoes off lots because they were too tight, but no). She ran into three shops and out of two shops and the library, and in the opposite direction to the one we were going in three times. Thankfully, she never ran into the road, but she’s so fast it’s definitely a worry. I think we have some reins somewhere that we used briefly with Rosemary (I hate them so much!), which I’m very tempted to dig out. Don’t think she’d stay put in the buggy or the backpack unless plied with huge bags of Haribo.
I know this is normal. I know Rosemary did it. I know most children do it. I know it’s a really important part of development and learning. I know there are strategies to deal with it (or cope with it – gin perhaps?) that I need to remind myself of pronto. And I also know that there are way more than equal amounts of wondrous and miraculous things that she is also doing at the moment. But knowing all that does not make it any easier or less tiring.
Good luck tomorrow, Granny Jenny!