Watching my youngest child wobble her way from babyhood to toddlerdom is an endlessly fascinating thing. For all the usual reasons – flourishing, growing, finding her personality, blah blah – all lovely, of course, but what I’m really enjoying is watching the same set of behavioural patterns emerge, child after child. My oldest child is always asking “why is she crying? Why does she want that? Why won’t she STAY OUT OF MY ROOM?” (The last one is usually yelled at full throttle.) In trying to explain child 3’s sometimes funny, sometimes odd, but mostly downright erratic behaviour, we have come across some universal baby rules, as we have now dubbed them. My knowing 6 year old now nods sagely when her little sister screams for an empty drink carton about to be thrown away, and says “Baby rule number one” and sighs. I’ve seen these baby rules play out three times now, which makes them all the more familiar and lovely. We decided to write them down, because at 6, child one really does like a nice set of rules – even if she fails to follow them most of the time. So here goes – a set of fairly universal Baby Rules. How many do you recognise?
Baby Rule 1 – What ever you have got, I want it. Full stop.
Simple, this one. It does what it says on the tin. What ever you or any other person in the vicinity of the 17 month old has in their hands, she wants it. Scissors? Pan of boiling water? Phone charger? Banana skin? Yup, she wants it. And the world is going to end if she doesn’t get it. Usually this scenario ends with baby lying face down on floor sobbing and shaking, followed by a mad cling to your leg while smearing her snot and tears across your trousers.
Baby Rule 2 – What ever toy you are holding, I want it.
Yes, this one is like Rule 1, but with a slight variation. It tends to involve children rather than adults, because there is no way as an adult you can distract her from wanting the electric food mixer with a cute toy, but if a sibling has the toy, different story. Cue screams and flailing arms , followed swiftly by the drop to the floor and a hard sob. If the sibling actually relents and hands over the most wanted toy in the word, the 17 month old discards it within 3 seconds. It doesn’t quite end there though, because no other child is allowed to pick up the now unwanted toy. It’s a case of ‘I don’t want it, but you’re definitely NOT having it.’
Baby Rule 3 – I don’t eat anything specifically made for me. I eat everyone else’s food. Even though they all have the same thing as me.
Another one that most parents of toddlers-in-training will recognise – the old ‘I’ll have what you’re having’ trick. It doesn’t matter if it’s EXACTLY the same as what’s on her plate. If she’s not sitting on your knee, eating your food from your fork and backwashing into your drink, don’t bother.
Baby Rule 4 – If there’s a tap/bowl/drop of water anywhere in my vicinity, I must get myself soaking wet.
Babies love water – don’t we know it! But how on earth does the smallest drop on the kitchen floor manage to cause so much mayhem? Within moments, baby is wet through and needs a full change of clothes. Water has become the bane of my life lately. She has actually figured out how to drag the plastic step child two stands on to clean his teeth, round to the point where she can reach the tap and turn it on. Woe betide me if I leave a glass of water on my bedside table. And the simple act of taking a drink from her Tommee Tippee lidded cup usually involves an outfit change.
Baby Rule 5 – I will cry non-stop to be let out of my buggy. Once taken out and free to roam, I will spend the next hour trying to climb back in.
What is this all about? You give your small beloved person the run of the park. Oh the joy! The freedom! Go and explore, my intrepid little adventurer. But no, the only exploring she wants to do is in her own buggy. Climb in, climb out. Repeat. Occasionally be distracted by a dog, which she must poke in the eye with her finger. Climb back on to buggy. Climb out. Climb in. Climb out…
Baby Rule 6 – I will put everything and anything in the most bizarre / unreasonable / inexplicable places.
I’ve found a trowel in the washing machine, a remote control in the bathroom sink, countless lego pieces in the basket under the buggy, a baby wipe in the dvd machine, a cuddly duck in the dishwasher, a plastic farm animal in my left shoe, my right shoe in the pan cupboard in the kitchen, my iphone in the cutlery drawer, a half eaten cracker under my pillow, and both of child two’s shoes in the watering can in the garden. Oh, and a jar of pesto in a welly boot. Need I say anymore?
I could go on – but these ones cover most of the behavioural traits we see in our house on a daily basis. With a list of them pinned to the fridge in the kitchen, they keep us sane and amused as we tick each one off, like playing a mad kind of ‘Baby Bingo’. We’ve found a fun way to bond as a family around the unreasonable tantrumming of the youngest in our midst, keeping us laughing as she tries to land a smack in my face because I won’t let her put the contents of my jewellery box down the toilet (see Rule 6). The baby may rule our household, but we’re having the last laugh!
Written by guest blogger Treading Water Mum