…will be the name of my first parenting book. If I ever write one. All day long I find hidden bits of cereal or raisins, cutlery down the back of the sofa, and mangled up bits of goodness knows what in every corner of the house. And then there are the things Ava likes to directly offer me – food she has held in her warm, sticky little fingers that she kindly declares is for Mama. And since Mama wants to show how appreciative she is of Ava’s thoughtful sharing, Mama has to take these offerings and eat them. Pretend eating won’t work. Ava likes to see it being chewed and swallowed before she’s satisfied.
What I really want to do is write down all the amazing conversations that happen nowadays. It’s as if her vocabulary increases by ten fold every night. This age is so much fun. I like the twos a lot, so far.
And I have noticed that she has begun to manipulate language in order to make jokes. And not just language, either. Numbers too. She finds it funny to count to ten, then do it again putting all the numbers in the wrong order, to which I have to respond with an exaggerated ‘Noooooooo’ and then she giggles and says them in the right order again. She also likes to add in a twelve too, here and there, even though she doesn’t count past ten right now.
Where things come from…it amazes me – her little sponge brain picking up everything, taking it all in. One would be forgiven for getting paranoid about the influences in your children’s life, when you see firsthand how quickly and easily they imitate whatever they are around.
Certainly I am just as careful about the experiences I personally choose for her as I am about the films she watches or the food she eats. It makes me think twice before adopting an attitude of, ‘what harm can it do? she’s only two’, as if the experiences she has now are not just as (if not more, I believe) important, than those she has when she is older. It makes me feel happy to be unschooling, happy that we will always try, at least, to follow her lead on things. Sometimes it makes decisions now a little harder, because I always try to consider the long term effects, and not just the short term ones.
But I hope, and I believe, that it all adds up. All the small moments in a day, all the little things that seem not to matter so much – added together, they compound and have a huge influence.
Ava has started to tell us off for things that we gently remind her not to do. Today, she made Howard throw her again and again onto her beanbag, but also kept telling him, ‘Daddy don’t push Ava’ in a stern voice, and then demanding just that.
Yesterday she shouted, and I asked her if she could stop shouting please, and she replied, ‘Mama stop shouting too’. I’m not sure I was anywhere near shouting, but to be fair, my voice was probably raised somewhat.
Toddlers have such an inbuilt and black and white sense of fairness that I love. It really does fascinate me to watch Ava experiment with the cause and effect of her words and actions – to see her gently push boundaries, but not so much that it upsets anyone.
Seeing her with Ivy a couple of weeks ago was lovely, because they have quite similar personalities and have developed in very similar ways. I’ve never seen her enjoy another child’s company more. She adores her. And now that Ivy isn’t here, Ava asks to watch videos of her every day. (We have one very sweet one of Ava and Ivy bouncing up and down on the bed and giggling, before Ivy declares that she wants to be a princess and goes off to find Ms Piggy)
I suspect that Ava is much like Howard in that she enjoys small groups/one on one playtimes and she certainly seems to prefer spending time with adults at the moment. It’s not that other children don’t interest her, it’s just that I think she’s always thought of herself as a grown up. She gets bothered by being shoved or pushed or any boisterous activity that is quite normal for a lot of toddlers – it’s like she just doesn’t understand why anyone would be so rough, even though on her own, she herself can be quite boisterous. It’s amusing to see this very Ava look of slight disapproval when another kid does something that seems to invade her personal space. I wonder what on earth she will think of having a baby brother.
But like everyone, her personality has some very constant factors and yet she is of course always maturing and always in a state of transformation. There are things about her I would say are very, undeniably, ‘Libran’, things that were there from day one, that can be seen even more so now she is expressing herself in new ways all the time, and there are things that surprise me, that seem to come from nowhere. It is important to me that I remember that who I think she is is just my version of her, at any given moment. Yes, I can know her deeply – that unchanging, essential part of her, but I also have to make it my job to allow her the space to develop in any given direction and get to know her again and again. Not easy, but so important. I’m sure of that.