When the husband and I are talking about parenting these days (something we do a lot of the time, because – parenting! It can be rather all consuming) we find ourselves saying “Oh, he’s so much fun at the moment!”. Around 18 months seems to be the stage for us where the really enjoyable part of having a baby has overtaken the tedious and difficult parts. Having the beginnings of broken conversations with your child is something I find particularly wondrous, and makes up for the downsides of this age (tantrums, hair pulling, and broken sleep – although this has been a feature of having Edward in general, not something limited to a particular age).
Things I’m enjoying at 18 months:
1. Conversations! Edward’s sentences generally begin with either “more” or “no”. “More? yoghurt? [lalo]”, “more? high?” [ie. push me higher on the swing, I’m not a baby], “more? book?”, and amusingly, “more? no?” [no more]. I’ve punctuated these in the way that he says them, two words with rising inflections. When I’m talking to him, or to someone in his presence, he busily parrots a word out of each sentence. I’ve taken to spelling some words in order to avoid sudden demands for those things – such as swing, park and yoghurt.
2. Edward’s daily increasing vocabulary. Recent acquisitions I have particularly enjoyed are “rain” [mame] accompanied by open palms raised to the sky if we happen to be outside, and “niiiiishe”, said with great satisfaction while drinking milk, or slightly less convincingly while sitting on one of the cats showering it with violent toddler affection. I guess all those “Ted! Be nice to the cats!” rubbed off, albeit not exactly as I intended.
3. Seeing his independence and focus increase. At the weekend I watched Edward buzz off by himself at a park and later at my brother’s house, unconcerned for large periods of time about his parents’ whereabouts, focussing on some particular absorbing thing – a water feature at the park, a zipper on a bag. He watches our faces with great intensity as we talk to him, sometimes silently moving his mouth along with us, frequently parroting words.
4. The way he listens intently to me while I sing to him (occasionally briskly saying “no!” if a song is not to his liking), and then applauds enthusiastically, grinning, when I’ve finished. I find it extremely endearing, and happily sing the same song multiple times in response to his “more! more!”. The morning I was shrieking at him in a mad falsetto (“Edward! Edward Bear! He is my Edwaaaaaard Beeeear!”. My invented songs tend to be fairly repetitious) which he found inexplicably delightful, and when I tried to switch to a more normal singing voice I was met with “no! more!”. I find I am happy to shriek endlessly in order to see that delighted grin spread across his face. There is no accounting for musical taste.
Things I’m not enjoying at 18 months:
1. Edward is a skinny toddler and a pretty erratic eater. I try not to pay too much attention to weight charts, but I was relieved when he almost scraped in to the 10th percentile the last time he was weighed. For some reason, I find the idea of being below the 10th percentile rather worrying. Well, more worrying. He’s not exactly a picky eater, but is disinterested in food a lot of the time. There are so many other things he would rather be doing, like emptying the kitchen cupboards of saucepans. I find this immensely frustrating, not only the process of cooking a meal that is rejected uneaten, but a nagging concern about his weight that, try as I might, is hard to dislodge. This issue is probably the one I spend the most time trying to relax about (given that everything I read about the subject blares in alarm “don’t make food into an issue, whatever you do!”).
2. Rough outbursts resulting from a mixture of excitement and frustration, which result in hair pulling and head butting, accompanied by mad cackling. We approach these by walking away from him for a bit, or putting him in his room for about 15 seconds or so, which usually serves to break the spell and allow him to calm down.
3. We’ve just finished a fortnight or so of fairly terrible sleeping (by that, I mean he wakes up about four to five times each night, breastfeeds each time to get back to sleep and sleeps very restlessly). He is now on day four of only-one-wake-up, I’m crossing my fingers that this is going to last for a while.
4. I wouldn’t say breastfeeding is something I’m not enjoying, exactly, but I’m rather tired of it. I go back and forth about weaning Edward, as I hope it will improve his sleeping. Initially I was hoping he would wean himself, but as that doesn’t seem to be happening, in a few months I will probably enlist the husband’s help in cutting out night feeds completely.