My deep desire to get out of the house when Oscar was tiny, resulted in a child that has socialised a lot since he was tiny. Not as much as a child in a massive family maybe, but he’s never been isolated. We’ve been going to groups regularly since he was 7 weeks old and having people over for the longest time. “Sharing” anything (toys, space, me) has never been an issue. In fact until very recently, Oscar seemed quite content to basically ignore the other children and play quite happily on his own (he can be a very focussed “player” when he wants to be). There have been exceptions to this rule. For example,watching him and Isabelle tickling and laughing at each other, is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen but on the whole that just the way it’s been. But as any parent of a toddler will understand, this is all changing. He is much more aware (as it should be) of other children and the things they’re doing. And he made me wholly aware of the effect of these changes all of last week.
Quite suddenly everything was stressful. I’m not even sure it’s a “it’s mine” thing, but I’m guessing it is. I was expecting it at some point and in my experience I was expecting him to start snatching things back or pushing and pulling. And maybe he’ll start doing that, but at the moment he seem to get infinitely more angry with himself than others. It’s horrible to see. Other children only have to touch things that are near him and he starts throwing himself to the ground crying in a dramatic fashion (who could he have got that from 😉 ) But he does other stuff too like head-butting the floor or the fence! It’s like he’s a shaken up bottle of coke that doesn’t know how to let the pressure out. I know it’s frustration through a lack of understanding, but god it breaks my heart 🙁 . I’ve tried being patient and keeping calm and explaining that it’s OK to feel cross, that the toys aren’t going anywhere/aren’t his/etc. I have no idea if he understands me. It doesn’t seem to make things a whole lot better at the time and I can only keep it up for so long! I’ve also tried the firm, “that’s enough”, approach, but that doesn’t work either. It was pretty bad on Thursday. He threw himself on the ground so many times at toddler group, people started thinking he was falling over or off things. He spent nearly the entire time upset, so in the end we left early. And as soon as we were out of the door he was fine.
One thing I am loathe to say is “you must share” because a) he has no idea what that means b) I’m not convinced it would the help the situation at the time and c) if I was him I would want to know why? and I don’t really have a better answer than “because it’s polite”. So how do I best explain the concept of sharing? As a friend asked the other day – how old are they before they understand? I’m guessing it’s not yet? In conversation with a Montessori nursery manager recently we discussed how all preschoolers, dislike “sharing” even if they understand the language surrounding the concept. She told me that if the children really want to play with the same thing they encourage them to play with the item together. And I like that idea. It doesn’t feel like you’re asking the child to give anything up, but does encourage the idea of collaboration.
But that doesn’t stop my not yet two year old banging his head on the furniture and scaring the other mothers and breaking my heart.
I know it’s his age. I do know that. And I know he’s going through a proper developmental change at the moment. He’s sending me very clear signals that things are a changing for real. None of this worrying about seeing toddlerhood coming on the horizon. It’s smack bang here! He’s waking up much earlier again and over the past week he’s learnt how to get out of his grobags – sort of! This week he has broken the zip on one and learnt how to get his arm through the neck hole of another! This morning he woke me at 6am to find him with both arms stuck through one arm hole. He’s like a not very good Houdini! So we’re going to have to ditch the grobags, in favour of a duvet. It’s not that big a deal. Really, it’s not. It’s just he’s been in a grobag since he was 8 weeks old and looking at toddler bedding on Sunday made me cry.
If I wanted a true signal that things have changed then I guess this is was it.