Life With My Toddler – 18 Months (aka 1.5 years!)

Oh, where to start? Maria is changing at the speed of light. Her vocabulary is growing, her climbing skills are (literally) reaching new heights, and her new hobby is to oppose everything! I don’t know whether to burst into laughter or pull out my hair when she smashes her food against the wall or makes a simple diaper change a drama.

At the same time, it is heartbreaking to see her frustration of not being in control yet wanting to so badly. Is it a taste of what we can expect over the coming months (or years)? If so, it gives us the opportunity to figure out the best way to deal with it. That said, any tips are welcome.

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Speech

Maria has always been quite a chatterbox, and her conversations are taking new forms. She is talking all the time and now also changing her intonation. At times, she sounds surprised; at other, as if she is making a joke. She expresses happiness, sadness or frustration all through her voice. The only problem? We have no idea what she is saying.

People sometimes ask me what language she talks in, and the answer is all three! Her vocabulary is growing and includes Dutch words like appel (apple), bibi (bear or beer in Dutch), op (finished), open (open) and dicht (closed); English words like Bye bye, see (the see is a new addition she started yesterday, as in See you!) and bubbles pop!; as well as Arabic words like mo (water) and aati (give me). And then there are the two universal words: mama and papa/baba. The funny thing is that I finally feel like she understands that I am mama. While mama has a thousand meanings for her and often simply means I want or Give me, Maria now calls me in the morning when she wakes up. If I don’t get to her soon enough (because mommy would like to snooze a little longer) she starts asking for papa.

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Books & Toys

The cutest thing ever is Maria’s love for her favorite teddy bear, Bibi. When we ask her, “Where is Bibi?” she runs to her bedroom to get him. When she sees a bear in a book or on YouTube, she exclaims, “Bibi!”.

Books remain a favorite pastime, and it is incredible how much she understands. When I say “Tick, tock,” she opens the page of a book with a clock on it. Or we ask her, “Where is Cleo?” and she runs off to get the book about a wooden horse named Cleo. If it was up to her she would have us to read her books all day long.

Other than books, she is not that much interested in her toys. Sure, she likes to play with her blocks and any toys with music, but she enjoys it just as much to play with everything she finds in the kitchen drawers, from plastic containers, pots and pans to utensils, colanders and bags of food. I can’t wait until she is old enough to bake and cook with me!

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No Mountains Too High

Who would want to walk if you can run? Or, even better yet, climb! Just a couple of months back I looked at one of Maria’s friends trying to climb up our dining table and thinking, “Maria would never do that!” How could I be so naive? She is climbing up the tables, bed and even the windowsill, which scares the pants off of me! It makes me consider joining a gymnastics class for toddlers. I think she would love it.

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A will of her own…

This month, I’ve seen a big difference in Maria’s interaction with other kids. Whereas she used to be happy to share her toys with other children, she is now becoming more possessive. Today, we were visiting a friend, and her son and Maria wanted to play with the same thing the entire time! As soon as one of them got another toy, the other wanted that toy as well. It was an interesting observation.

Making a mess (at my friend's house)!

Making a mess (at my friend’s house)!

The same happens with food. Where she used to happily share her food with others, she now gets mad if I take her food. I sometimes do it on purpose to make her eat, ’cause when I take it away from her it suddenly becomes much more interesting! I am mean, I know…

Mealtime is sometimes a bit of a drama. It often seems Maria just likes to oppose whatever I put in front of her, just for the sake of opposing. She throws pieces of tomato on the floor, spaghetti sauce against the wall, and a piece of banana ends up mashed and all over her clothes. We try to let her choose by putting a variety of foods in front of her, and often she ends up eating at least a bit.

Visiting an air ambulance with Playcentre. Maria wasn't that impressed, but I'm sure she will thank me for taking this photo when she is older.

Visiting an air ambulance with Playcentre. Maria wasn’t that impressed, but I’m sure she will thank me for taking this photo when she is older.

The other day, Maria woke up from her day nap. I got her out of bed and started to dress her. Suddenly, she began to cry: She didn’t want to wear the shirt! I tried to cuddle her, but she was fighting for me to let her go. When I put her down, she grabbed my legs and the meltdown continued. I took her to the balcony (something that has made her stop crying from the day she was born) but she kept screaming. Then I realized this was her first full-blown tantrum. I ended it by offering my breast. Not sure that is the smartest way to deal with a tantrum, but it did work.

Japanese dinner

Japanese dinner (nice pose, Maria!)

Bye Bye Routine

Following a two-week holiday, during which there were no Playcentre and music classes and we (moms) had to come up with activities, we are back to our routine. Monday: Playcentre. Tuesday: no scheduled activity. Wednesday: music class. Thursday: Playcentre. Friday: no scheduled activity. To be honest, I have become quite attached to it.

But we are merely three weeks away from our big trip, and I have started to worry: What activities can we do to keep the days interesting for Maria? How will her sleep be? Will we have any kind of routine? Can she still do her daytime naps? It makes me a bit anxious to step away from our routine, but I guess that is just my personality – and most likely I am not the only mother who worries about these things. I reckon it will be a great time to become a bit more flexible and go with the flow. I smell a new challenge here!

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Maria's first selfie

Maria’s first selfie

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