Baby T is my last. I know some people say that and then feel the need for more but I can pretty much guarantee this won’t be the case with us. Four would almost certainly lead to divorce. I was desperate for three; my husband was not. I think we can all see who won that one, but it was a bloody battle and wouldn’t end well if we replayed it. Besides, my baby urges are fully satisfied and three is most definitely the magic number in my case. Onwards to less nappy-filled horizons.
Despite not having wanted a third visit from the stork, my long-suffering other half adores his smallest. I catch him looking at him sometimes with such love that it makes my heart melt. The fact is that T makes it very hard for anyone not to adore him. He simply won’t take no for an answer. If my husband is quietly trying to work on his laptop, T clambers up onto him, gets between man and tech (a feat I am usually incapable of) and grins into his face until there is nothing for it but to give in and play. T is larger than life and so in your face, often literally, that you simply can’t ignore him. Part of this is probably third child syndrome, having to make himself noticed, but a lot of it is just who my little T is. He is a bundle of cheeky enthusiasm who refuses to be ignored.
T is unlike his siblings at this age in many ways, which has been a bit of a surprise and just goes to show that experience counts for nothing when it comes to personalities. I think the new kid on the block will always manage to challenge and baffle their parents in new ways, no matter how many kids you have. They are all so very different, even when they come from the same gene pool.
Life with any toddler is no bed of roses but T has, so far, been a pretty positive experience to end our toddling days on. When he is in a good mood, he is unadulterated fun with everyone and anyone. Compare this to his big brother at the same age and, despite being so similar in looks, they are chalk and cheese. H was a truly terrible toddler (see How My Demon Baby Grew Up). We doted on him and adored him just the same but H exhausted us and made life very tough. There wasn’t a lot of call for wistful looks of adoration when he’d been screaming his head off for two hours straight.
Our girl-in-the-middle was also very challenging at T’s age but in a different way. Only Mummy would do. I know that is pretty standard with young toddlers but she took it to new levels. Until she was about two and a half, she actually cried and hid when Daddy came into the room, shouting “No Daddy, no Daddy”. He tried really hard so it was heartbreaking to watch how mean she was. A good morning kiss on the head was greeted with ear-piercing screams. He could rarely cuddle her, carry her or get her changed without all hell breaking loose, which wasn’t only upsetting but also exhausting as the baby care was all down to me. Couple that with the fact that M’s sleep was horrific until her second birthday and you can see why she wasn’t a lot of fun to be around. I felt so sorry for my husband. It was hard enough for me to endure the tortuous sleep deprivation but at least I got smiles and affection for my efforts. It took the father-daughter relationship a long time to recover from such a bumpy start.
Now, back to my third and final toddler. An angel he is not (see Kidding Myself). In fact, as the terrible twos come a little closer, he is becoming extremely cheeky. He is the naughtiest of the three by a long chalk because he is a total rule-breaker. He does what the hell he likes, but he is so engaging and charismatic – if you can say that of a toddler – that he does it all without making life too miserable. Watching his relationship with my husband grow has been so rewarding and makes me feel a good deal less guilty about pushing for a third child. Without our H, my man wouldn’t have ever had the chance to experience the happy toddler bond that was somewhat absent for him with the first two at this age.
T is a real charmer and he gives the most incredible all-consuming cuddles – he is forever following us around to bestow bear hugs. He happily entertains himself or plays with his brother and sister, whom he idolises. Like most kids his age, he has little time for other toddlers but he greets adults and older kids like long lost friends, never stopping his adorable baby babble. There is a lot to love.
At twenty months now, tantrums are in full force and T does all the classic stuff: screaming, being totally unreasonable, throwing himself onto the floor in a rage. But it is generally short-lived and even the worst of them is nothing a brief time-out can’t fix. No prolonged sulks, no two hour screaming session.
But, as anyone who has ever lived with a toddler knows, it is no bed of roses and they have the power to ruin a day or even a week with their behaviour. T is no different. Balancing his demands with the needs of the other two is a constant challenge and I often feel guilty that he draws far too much of my focus.
Just accomplishing simple things is almost impossible at times. Take pens: pretty necessary everyday objects but they have become a toddler battleground in our house. We can’t use pens in T’s presence without it resulting in a crazed scribbling session with pen literally everywhere and/or a screaming meltdown. H can’t do his homework without being mobbed. The pen obsession is actually getting somewhat out of hand and has led to rather a lot of pen on wall incidents and hundreds of scream-ups. Rare is the day when T doesn’t end up a variety of colours by bath time.
Yes, life with T can certainly be challenging and some days he does nothing but moan and complain, which is pretty wearing. Also, being so naughty and completely lacking in common sense, I have to have eyes in the back of my head, so my days are pretty exhausting right now.
But it is good to have such a different and, on the whole, positive toddler experience for our third and final time. He makes us laugh a lot, even when he has been a right little pickle. If he could wink at me and tip his cap in the style of the Artful Dodger, I think he would. He has a real cheeky street urchin vibe about him and he makes me feel like life is a jolly old game that we should all enjoy as much as possible. That seems a pretty good philosophy to me. The rule-breaking we might have to work on a bit but I hope he keeps that love of life and that naughty glint in his eye.
I am pretty sure he will.