It’s complicated: Accountability and risk assessment

So as a single person, you’re not that accountable. No lunch? No worries. Home and 3am and back to work at 9? No biggie some hot chips and a powerade can’t fix. Run out of time for vacuuming? Whatever.

As a married person, I have to say it wasn’t much different. Marginally more checking in with each other. More risk of the vacuuming not getting done as you have someone else to blame.

Having a lazy week and want to eat pizza, drink beer, and sneak chocolate? Yeah whatevs. Get back on the wagon next week.

Screaming the chorus of the Angels “am I ever gonna see your face again ?..no way, get f…d, f…off” in your car? No biggie. Enjoy.

Oh wow, as a mum.

Running late, skip breaky?
He can’t. And it takes A…g….e…s.

No lunch packed? Ah, get something when you get home.
Cue meltdown in public, premature nap that won’t last, mama guilt and a lot of banana /vegemite sandwich / sultana consumption.

Vacuuming not done? He finds a bobby pin, a five cent coin, a Panadol and several pieces of old food embedded in the pile. In ten minutes. And tries to eat them. All.

Letting your own diet slip? Nothing like the horror of seeing your 15 month old reach for a chip or biscuit or wine to pull you up short and get you back on the apples.

I can only imagine how cruddy I will feel when we enter the answer back phase.
” no Jman! You can’t eat THAT.”
” but mum, you’re eating it”.

Yep. I might do it to myself, but I can’t condone setting up another human being for a world of shit with food. Not going to happen. Which is why I was the strictest person on the planet when I had gestational diabetes…and why I’ll be the mum with the chopped up fruit for dessert. Says the woman who let him try baklava today…..

Then there’s risk management. Geez, you could get a job in risk assessment after being a mum. Your whole life is a risk assessment, balancing up costs and benefits. There are thousands of risk calculations a day. Thousands. If I pee now, and he comes in, he might reach over into the bath and fall and hit is head. But I really need to pee. And here he comes.

I need a quick shower, and he’s sitting very quietly in front of Sesame Street in his high chair. With toast.

He’s climbing the stairs to the slippery dip and he has no fear, no ideas about heights, and he’s fast and strong. And there’s an eight foot drop off on one side. But he also needs to stretch and test physical boundaries.

He’s running, on concrete.
He’s running, down a hill.
He’s running, and there’s a road / driveway / body of water / dog off the leash / bike rider /giant puddle 100 metres away.

He’s eating spaghetti in a white top.
He’s eating a whole apple.
He’s drinking milk out of a normal cup over the carpet in our rental apartment.
He’s eating avocado, and now he wants a hug.
He’s breastfeeding, a bit cranky, and growing more molars. Ouch.
He needs his teeth cleaned but he’s going to lose his shit when I try.
He is going to playgroup so we must cut his scratchy pinchy nails. But he’s going to try and move. A lot.

The risk assessments trade off his well being with my well being and others’ .
They trade off present shit for future benefit, and present pleasant for future shit.
They trade off the need to extend expand push and practice, with staying alive and in one piece.

It is the mental game that sometimes tires you out. The anticipation… of danger, of falls, of meltdowns, of naps….

You lose your shit, and you’re accountable to yourself and the mummy guilts, to him, to dada.
You eat crap, he learns crap eating is ok.
You swear, he swears back.
You yell or smack, he yells, and smacks.

And the risks. We assess risk all day every day. For ourselves. But it is sooooooo different when we are assessing risk on behalf of another human being who hasn’t got the good sense to keep themselves alive and fully functional. We are caretakers for their welfare, until they can take it on their own behalf.

And that’s complicated.

15 months

Tornado.

That is the only word to describe 15 months old. Tornado.

He is wilful. He is smart. He is bossy. He is demanding!

At 15 months old jman can say:

Tree (twee!)
Bird ( sounds more like bir)
Car
Mum
Dad
Bub
Bath (bart)
Grandma ( pronounced Anma)
Bye
Hi
Toast ( pronounced toat)
Pear (all fruit and some veg is “par! Par!)
Shoes (sues! Also covers socks, and toes)
Cake (keck)
Tickle tickle
Cheese (chee)
Plane (pronounced pay)
Pup
Ted
Cat (put ee tat)
Up (often pronounced upppppppp with a raspberry blown on the end)
Down (pronounced dow-errrrrrr)

addendum:

Since I first drafted This, he says pasta (pah sta!) and gni for gnocchi, his favourite food. It becomes a chant now…pah sta! Pah sta! Pah sta! Very funny. Needless to say it was carbonara for tea this evening.

He’s added saying “boat” and “shop” in the last two days, both quite clear. And “more”, which he says and signs simultaneously.

When he wants to go out now, he finds the keys and stands at the front door, saying “car. Caaaaar”. If I don’t respond, he either throws a wobbly and melts down at the door, or starts bashing on the door. Many small neighbourhood walks have ensued.

Our conversations in the car are funny. “Car!” Yes, buddy, there’s a car!
“Caaaar?” No, that’s a truck.
“Carrrr!!!!” Yes! That’s a fast car.
“Twee!” Yes! The tree is blowing in the wind! A big tree.
After 45 minutes, yep, it’s tiresome.

One offs:

He randomly repeats words, for example today he started saying “cupcake”. I have no idea why. These words often last a say or so, then disappear. tick, done. In the past, he’s said dude, Jensen. Wooooot has disappeared for the time being.

He said cockatoo today. This is a funny word, apparently.

Sentences:

A sentence! First sentence! Last Friday, “bye dad.” I think we’ve also had “what’s that?”
( whaddat?) but it isn’t as clear.

Instructions :

Get a book. Bring to mum.
Get your shoes.

Actually, pretty much anything you say, he understands. If I’m thinking of cooking him gnocchi, I have to spell it, not mention it by name. The two minute wait for his favourite food, gnocchi pesto, is unbearable.

If anyone mentions going, home, better get a move on etc, he starts waving and saying “byeeee”.

Counting

Jman tries to count. All. The time. He makes the right vocal intonations, and points to things one by one. He says “wunnnnnn. Tooooooo. Seben. Treeee….” It’s very funny. He practices a lot, and his small board book on counting he is obsessed with, but he knows his limits and wants me to stop at four or five each time then start again.

The counting began with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and it’s gone from there.

Books

He’s obsessed. He’s so fast at everything, always moving, exhausting but never exhausted.

Then he gets a book. He can read the one story eight times, sitting perfectly still on my lap for every re read.

He knows one book off by heart. Or two. He adores Moo baa lalala by Susan Boynton. We have a board book at an ipad app of it. (Great app. Hilarious. Get the four book version. We adore it).

We say it all the time now. Jman’s parts are in italics.

A cow says moooo
A sheep says baaaa
Three singing pigs say la la laaaa

No no ! You say, that isn’t right the pigs say oink all day and night
Rhinoceroses snort and snuff
And little dogs go ruff ruff ruff
Some other dogs go bow wow wow
And cats and kittens say miaow
quack says the duck
A horse says neigh
It’s quiet now,what do you say?

He also know Dear Zoo quite well. And hairy macleary. And if I have to read Mighty Movers: farm machines one more time I may just neck myself.

We are both delighted we have a book lover. Delighted.

Except. He knows we will never say no when he asks us to read him a book. Well, hardly ever. So it’s now his favourite delaying / interrupting / pay me attention tactic. But as tactics go, it’s probably one we want to encourage.

Songs:

He car dances. Lots. Faves are the Grand old duke of York (i think it’s the ommm pa tuba in that track), the wheels on the bus, with gestures, dingle dangle scarecrow. He likes gesturing songs, like twinkle twinkle, the scarecrow, incy wincy spider, open shut them, the hokey pokey.

Babble

He has a babble ( the official term is jargoning) repertoire that sounds a little like he’s talking Swedish. Some sounds are repeated, such as the “can you open this for me mum?” One, and “this looks edible please get me some”. Some days his babble concentrates on particular sound groupings. The last few days is “manamana numinuminum” quite a lot. A few says later it might become all p’s and b’s, “perdickle pickle bbppp bbppp?”

Signs

We’ve got a bit slack, but he still signs toast, plane, finished, and all of a sudden “more”, quite consistently. They are handy, especially when I know whether he’s hungry or not, and finished.

Routine and jobs

My sister started taking him to the outside garbage and getting him to drop the nappy sack in. He thinks it’s great. So much so, that when he chucks a wobbly about getting his pants changed, I say “now lay there, and then you can go and put it in the bin”.

He now won’t let us hang the nappy sacks on the back of the front door to wait for our next trip out. We have to do it immediately. We high five after a successful drop.

He does the recycling now. I take him out to the bins, and he throws the bottles, cans and paper in one by one. Loves it. Asks all the time can we do it.

The plants. He loves watering the plants. You can guarantee that at least once a day he will go out to the balcony, get the watering can, bring it in, and then shout at either one of us to fill it. Then we have to take it out, water all the pot plants, then refill it, and he sits and throws pegs into it and tips out the water. Often all over himself. This has now advanced to throwing things off the balcony as well. Sigh.

We usually hang the washing on the balcony in small lots, but jman likes to help. For a while there he’d patiently sit and hand me the clothes piece by piece as I hung them out. Now he gets impatient and ends up grabbing clean things and shoving them in the pot plants when I’m too slow. So planned distractions are needed. Mental.

He is so busy. Really. Our days have a routine now, that has somehow evolved in response to his needs for movement and stimulation, and my needs for caffeine and social interaction with adults. There is always some active time. There is always some reading. And lately, there is always the evening stroll after first dinner when daddy is due home. We walk the streets of our little suburb. We have to go and see the black pussycat three doors down, we have to wave to each of three different dogs, we have to go to the water and wave to a bird, a ferry, and a helicopter, we have to walk to the other end of the street and watch for the cockatoos feeding on the gum nuts, then when daddy gets home he has to get in the car, turn the hazard lights on and off, beep the horn, pop up the headlights then turn them off again, and finally after another lap of the street we can go inside.

We’ve started going to a little playgroup just to get us out a bit more, which is fun from the point of view of different toys and faces.

15 months is intense. I am exhausted, and sometimes look at the clock and think geez I can’t do this for another three hours. He is that full on. i dont wake up when he wakes in the night. i sleep like i am dead. Unless I’m lying awake with my head buzzing, which also happens a bit.
But it also astounds me what a person he is now, complete with likes and dislikes, plans and memories, stubborn wilfulness and limit testing and occasional nanoseconds of quiet reflection.

If he drops anything else in the toilet, I may kill him. If he touches the rubbish bin again the blog will go rather quiet while I totally lose my shit, but there’s a flip side to the intensity which is his appreciation and enjoyment of things now. And his ability to really connect. He’s a joy and a delight. And a real character. And a total unrelenting pain in the ass.

Some things are so much easier now. He actually helps, like getting dressed, putting on shoes, brushing his own hair!

Some things are harder now, like sitting down and drinking a cup of coffee. Hint mum: switch back to macchiatos. Because that is how long you can sit for now.

Most things are doable, if I remember to recognise the unique features of right now. That is: 1.he is compelled to move. It isn’t a choice, not even remotely. 2. He is compelled to move things, to try and systemise and organise them. 3. He is compelled to test limits. The same limit. Over and over and over and over and over and over again. Again, not a choice, a compulsion. I have to keep reminding myself this is his work. This is what he must do right now.

Welcome to toddlerhood, my name is Jensen and I’ll be your guide.

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