Poppy is sitting in her high chair with her bowl and its contents on her head and is proudly saying “hat”, “hat” as she catapults her spoon across the kitchen and chucks a handful of peas and fishcake at me. This is followed by her water bottle.
I can feel the hysteria rising in me. Hysterical laughter because my daughter is wearing a bowl as a hat, tears because the kitchen, my jeans and Pop’s head are covered in a squished medley of disgustingness and general hysterics because I don’t have the faintest idea what I should be doing right now. There are so many options and no clear answers.
My mind moves at double speed as another handful of peas lands at my feet….
Here are some of the thoughts and questions swimming around in my ‘exhausted, it’s almost the end of the day, when is Mr UFM getting home from work?’ head:
Should I laugh with her and enjoy the moment? She is after all being creative and having fun. Who cares that everything is covered in food and she is sending plastic spoons and her cup flying across the kitchen? Who cares that my newly washed hair is covered in fish? This is all good. It’s how it should be. She’s only one and a half after all for goodness sake. Yes this is a sign of a creative, happy go lucky toddler. I’m going to embrace this moment and let her express herself. GO POPPY.
Maybe I should ignore her and hide my laughter by standing in the corner of the kitchen. Am I encouraging bad table manners by showing her that she’s actually being quite amusing? What would happen if she did this at my Mum’s house? What would my in-laws make of this behaviour? Am I a terrible mother?
I’m going to tell her off! I’m going to say “No” and confiscate the offending items. I can do this. She does have a naughty and dare I say it knowing look in her eyes when she does these things. Perhaps she knows exactly what she’s doing?
What if she cries real tears and even worse starts to have a tantrum? I’m exhausted and will do anything for peace. But then again what if my fear of discipline makes her naughty in the long run? My choices now could affect her whole life.
So what do I do in the end?
I end up employing a confusing mixture of all three options. That’s what!
“No Poppy”, I say as I giggle.
“That’s naughty”, I proclaim as I turn my head around and try not to show her that I’m smiling at her “hat”.
“Give mummy the bowl” I demand as I remove it from her head and subsequently put it straight back on her head as the inevitable tantrum starts.
– I am a totally befuddled Mama who has no idea when to move from encouraging mess and creativity at dinner time to putting a stop to it. (If I ever should have encouraged mess and creativity at dinner time in the first place!)
– Knowing when to make the transition from encouraging your baby to do anything and everything to putting a stop to your toddler’s bad habits is really hard and muddling. When does a child need and understand the concept of discipline?
– Stepping on cold peas really is quite disgusting!