|Suspiciously similar to above|
I don't know when it happened. Somewhere in the last few weeks since the crawling began and independence loomed onto the horizon, Wriggles, at least I assume it is still Wriggles, has left behind the calm and laid back loony baby stage behind, and with no warning whatsoever has become a vandal. Not just a vandal but a thieving vandal with the attention span of an attention deficient hyperactive gnat on drugs.
On Thursday, she came with me to work in the morning as the dance company I dogsbody for were in the middle of a tour with an under 5s show and were performing in our building. I set off with a spring in my step, looking forward to introducing my darling daughter to the world of theatre and magic, letting her imagination run riot. We both were in matching t-shirts (for marketing not nauseating purposes; they had the show and company details emblazoned on them) and I eagerly parked the buggy and found a space in the middle. The show was unseated to maximise the chances for children to interact with the performance, so we all sat on beanbags at the front. It began, and within ten minutes Wriggles was fixated on the Dora the Explorer rucksack within her sight line in front of us. Smelling trouble, I swiftly plonked her on the other side of me. Uh-oh. The lady this side of me had, as you, a watch. A very shiny silver watch. Wriggles is unfortunately part girl and part magpie. I spent the next five minutes disentangling her fingers from the stranger's wrist and apologising. The mother gave me an understanding look. "It's OK, I've been there." Phew. Next to fall victim were a little boy's shoes; luckily the poor sausage was mobile so could leg it onto the stage to escape the writhing hands of my scamp. We managed a brief respite whilst I held on tightly to my daughter. If I was confident she would just crawl about, I would have happily let her explore and peril be unleashed to any passing ballerina's ankles. However, I know full well that her full time hobby currently is wreaking damnation and thievary, and I do not have the patience or sanity in a place where I work to spend the rest of the day sifting through a thousand and one belongings which I have never set eyes on before that have magically appeared in the buggy and my handbag and shamefacedly handing them into the lost property at the reception that I trill hello to three mornings a week. Unfortunately, the rucksack was proving too much a temptation and as the show jollied on amongst us, and music and dance filled the air accompanied by state of the art lighting and sensory set design, Wriggles beseiged the blasted bag over and over and over again, shrieking if I dared to part her. The unwise owner of the bag had left it unzipped, causing even more temptation. Fifteen minutes and approximately 10067 partings later, the mother turned and asked if she would like a breadstick, assuming either she was a starving waif desperate to be fed or in vain pleading that a distraction would keep her still for at least 45 seconds. Needless to say it didn't work.
Somehow, I reasoned with myself that the whole experience could be chalked up to a new activity and over stimulation, and after weeks of spending weekends cooped up in the flat chasing after a nutcase trying the chew her way through the phone cable I decided we were going to Do Something today. I packed a bag for the day, bundled us both up in coats and managed to catch the correct metro with seconds to spare, to make it to the Great North Museum for the under 5s story time. Wriggles confidently sat at the front and it soon became apparent that whilst at baby groups and classes, the more the merrier sat at the feet of the leader and crawling about, this was not the etiquette here. Everyone one else seemed suspiciously well behaved. Two minutes in and she had enthusiastically banged her head and was now far more interested in the handbag of an unsuspecting woman, who unfortunately had sunglasses, an iphone and expensive looking white scarf on top. A dad nearby nervously put his prized leaflet collection into his coat pocket. After the fifth time of returning the bag and parroting my best "No", I decided removal was the best option. Whilst I formulated plan B, Wriggles had taken a fancy to someone's red patent shoes. Sadly they were still occupied by the feet of their owner; not that it stopped her. Lunchtime did not get any better; it was half an hour of Wriggles trying to climb out of a highchair and painting herself orange with mango puree. She looked like an OompaLoompa (take that, Speech and Language lady "she really should be exposed to messy play"). After succeeding in getting a few mouthfuls down the hatch, my relief and pride were quickly disassembled as a true wobbler was displayed as Wriggles refused to leave the chair. A sympathetic diner at the opposite table had to step in an assist by holding the chair while I extracted the lunatic within.
I have now recalled why the past weekends have been spent cooped up in the flat.
I am torn between being proud that we have reached this stage at all after our journey, and the relief that this is just a 'normal mum' problem to wail about in coffee shops or draughty church halls and exhaustion. Having nothing to compare it to other than brief memories of my young sister, which being the superior one seemed highly comical, can't tell if it is just teeth-gnashingly average or if it is compounded by the fact that her cognitive development has run up short to her language and physical development which are substantially behind, is holding her back from achieving a lot more which may make it slightly more bearable. Not much, but slightly.
This new stage which I can only assume is the brink between older baby and younger toddlerdom has crept up with stealth and has no appropriate warning. It is reminiscent of when you have a newborn, or the premature equivalent of, and everyone warns you about sleep deprivation. I've done some hardcore partying and not slept til 5am, you think confidently. They must just not have been up to the job; I'll have it nailed. You emerge battered and black-eyed wittering gibberish eight weeks later, crying "Why didn't anyone WARN me!" into your stone-cold cup of tea. Before being in possession of an older baby, you watch tantrums and think that it is quite sweet letting the children express themselves and that it will pass quicker than you think. Recently my friend with a daughter four months older, passed through my flat and told me how much she loves work at the moment. Not because her job is the bees knees but because it is respite. At the time, I thought nothing of it. Now after running around hiding household items and never quite finding the ultimate sanctuary and disengaging dear child from the internet router/tea towel drawer/washing machine door/freezer/pulling the full-length mirror on her head, she has my full sympathy. Like you never quite appreciate how tough the first few months of having a baby is until you are in the thick of it, then promptly forget, this stage I cannot help feeling is not labelled strongly enough. I have also learnt that "under 5s" is a euphemism for "aged 2 and upwards". I am really hoping the weather improves soon as I am running out of ideas other than the park or the beach to take us when either one or both of us is going stir-crazy at home.
Excuse me while I go and rescue the toilet brush......