The Toddler, although a mathematical genius, is a bit confused about opposites.
We are about to leave the house.
“Hat off, Mummy?”
“You mean you want your hat on?”
He is playing downstairs and wonders where Teddy is. He remembers he left Teddy in bed.
“Teddy beneden [downstairs], mama,” he says. “Get-it Teddy?”
“Do you mean Teddy is upstairs?”
His latest confusing opposite is “too big, Mummy”.
He is playing in our new sandpit and filling his bucket with sand, tipping it over to make sandcastles. Then he wants to write numbers in the sand. We have some other moulds, and I ask him if he would like to make a crab out of sand perhaps? “No, too big Mummy,” is his reply.
What he means is: I am too little for that. What he actually means is: I’d prefer not to do that. I don’t think I can do it so I’d rather not try.
We come in from an outing and I suggest that maybe he could take his own shoes and socks off. “No, too big Mummy.”
At dinner time: “S, why don’t you have some cauliflower as well, instead of just picking out all the carrots?”
“No, too big, Mummy.”
Since his little sister arrived, he has become aware of the possibility that you might be too little to do certain things. We’d explain that the baby was too little to eat bananas, or grab things, or sing songs. Soon, he started telling us she was too little – but ironically, too little to do things that by then she was actually capable of.
Now he has started to apply this concept to himself. It seems to have given him a way of expressing insecurity, a lack of confidence – or sometimes just stubborn unwillingness to try something new. He can be a bit of a cautious boy. For about six months after a little mishap with a slide, he would climb up the steps to slides of any height with great excitement, only to peer down and decide: “No. Not.” and turn around to climb back down the steps again. He seems to have forgotten that reluctance now. But he does seem aware of his limitations, he is not one of these fearless boys who will throw themselves into new adventures regardless of the dangers and risks. He wants to try the more difficult climbing frame but insists I stay right next to him as he climbs up the first bit, then squeaks “Carry!” as he can see he is “too big” yet for the monkey bar section that comes next. I lift him over to the other side, where with great joy he zooms down the slide – something he has mastered and feels confident with. The monkey bars don’t put him off wanting to get to the slide. The difficult ladder section at the beginning doesn’t put him off, he wants to give it a go, but he wants me to stay close and coach him, help him decide where to put his hands and feet next. And I look on in amazement, because the last time I looked he had no hope of even attempting that climbing frame.
He is growing up and getting bigger all the time.
This week, he moved into a real bed from his cot. We were quite nervous about how he would take it. We talked about leaving the cot up in the room for a while, in case he was really upset and wanted his old bed back. There was no room, though, so we had to take it down and go cold turkey. My husband and I were both very cautious as children and very resistant to change, so our assumption is usually that our son will be the same. We prepared him that he would have a new bed that evening and billed it as a wonderful surprise. Once it was built, made up and all his toys had moved in, my husband got out his camera to record this moment – hoping that the Toddler’s reaction wouldn’t be: “No, too big, Daddy.”
It wasn’t. He rushed into his room to see his surprise and said: “Special bed!” He got straight in and wanted us to stroke his hair so he could go to sleep. Every morning now when I come up to get him, I find him sitting on the floor reading books and he greets me with: “Lekker slapen nieuw bed!” [Nice sleep new bed!]
He wasn’t too little or too big for the new bed, but just the right size.
Maybe I think you’re getting a bit too big. Don’t grow up too fast, little man.