There are blossoms scattered where I wheeled L in her pushchair this afternoon. The sky was slate grey, water dripped off her rain cover (and from my hood) and she wanted to get home. I did, too, and was in a tired, rain-induced grump. I gave her a cluster of white blossom to hold and she put one in her mouth, declaring she'd eaten one (she hadn't). She said she was hungry. Then she wasn't. She was cross, then not. You get the picture. But there is now far more going on than predictable toddler contradictoriness. I can see that L is pushing boundaries and watching with sparkling alertness in her dancing eyes to see how I react to some of the things she says (or whispers, if they are cheeky). I am going to take it as a huge compliment that she – according to psychological theory – feels sufficiently secure at the age of just two and a half to do this. Itisgooditisgooditisgood.
I look at L and see the steady gaze that meets mine, as it could be in its teenage version, and feel the pressure on me to get it right, NOW. It all feels suddenly pivotal. I vow to not lose my cool, and to be firm and try to understand what she's going through, no matter what, because, even though she can explain certain things, some of her feelings and needs are at the mercy of a lack of words and meaning. The finessing of language has yet to emerge... goodness knows, I have encountered grown men and women who lack some children's level of emotional articulacy. L says things, as of today it seems, simply to see what effect they have on Mummy. This is not toddler tantrum stuff; it is something that is new, and as the lying down and shouting fades in frequency (yes, her, not me, though it is sorely tempting at times), I suspect that this 'head' stuff will increase and call on my brain and heart in equal measure.
I want to show L that I mean business, can guide her, and am a strong (if sometimes flawed) role model capable of loving and nurturing through anything and everything. I'm not into the my child = my friend lark. I have chosen my friends to be my friends; I want L to have friends and to have me as more than just a friend, if I'm honest. A friendly mum, but a mum. It is a huge responsibility. Shoulder-crackingly massive. Crumbs.