Dear Dave

Monday 11 May 2009

Living with baby Barbie

Dear Dave,

I'm afraid, just like the smell of children, the prevalence of pink floweriness in your home is only going to increase as time goes on. Daisy's demands for sparkly fuchsia clothing will evolve into a desire for princess outfits, fairy costumes, cuddly flamingos, cerise duvets, neon nail polish and all manner of fashion dolls, kittens and plastic ponies. Certainly that's been my experience with Marie anyway.

Go and visit the girl's aisle at Toys'R'Us. (You know, the one that's so pink it actually glows.) That's your house in three years time.

Is that really the problem, though? Sounds like you're pretty fed up at the moment and ranting about the pink is simply something to focus your frustration on. Hopefully Daisy will be over the worst of her teething soon and you'll both be able to sleep properly at night. The way things are at the moment, with her napping during the morning, the situation isn't ideal. You're missing out on the adult contact going to parent and toddler provides and then having to spend long afternoons entertaining a bored and bouncing one-year-old at a point in the day when you would probably much rather have a lie down.

I recall those periods of my life well. It was tough.

The important thing to remember is to... er... I... That's to say... erm...

Nope. I've forgotten.

Now I think of it, maybe I can't actually recall that much after all. The year when Marie was one is rather a hazy blur. A tough, hazy blur, definitely, but a blur nonetheless. I have vague memories of having to feed her nothing but Cheerios and Hula Hoops because she wouldn't eat anything else. I can faintly recollect long hours awake on the sofa with her during the night and then dozing off while playing Mario Kart with Fraser during the day. Mostly I remember having to shut her in a playpen every time I went to the toilet to stop her climbing up the sideboard and attempting to fly.

I suspect there may have been tantrums. From both of us.

Oddly, I quite enjoyed it. With Fraser at school, Lewis at nursery and Marie unable to even wipe her own nose, I had a packed schedule. There was a strict timetable of what I had to do each day and when and where I had to do it. I never had the chance to be bored. In many ways, life was harder work when Fraser was small. His teething made a mess of my sleep patterns almost as much as Marie's did but I only had him to care for during the day. I was tired and crotchety and time really dragged.

Without the distraction of siblings, a solitary toddler is more likely to demand attention and it's much harder to find excuses to fob them off that don't make you feel guilty. It's possible to get stuck for hours helping them do the same jigsaw over and over again. Remember that just because Sam is at school, you don't have to pander to Daisy the whole time. Leave her to the mercy of the Teletubbies and go and take a proper break sometimes.

If it helps, think of it as for her own good. You don't want her getting too used to your undivided attention or the school holidays are going to come as something of a shock...

I still can't help you with the pink, however. It's tempting to blame the problem on her gender. The truth is more likely that it's simply too late. She's acclimatised. I'm sure my boys would have happily worn pink, flowery clothing at her age but they didn't often get the opportunity. These days, their classmates would laugh at them. For girls, on the other hand, it's difficult finding clothes that aren't pink and flowery. In many ways, it could be worse. Imagine what it would be like trying to get her dressed if she didn't like pink...

Also, the pink may only be the beginning. I don't really like explaining a child's temperament on the basis of such things as birth experience, feeding regime, family position or gender. I firmly believe that every child is different anyway. They arrive with their own personalities and each already has a personal plan as to how to drive you up the wall. There are no sweeping generalisations to be made about how boys behave differently from girls.

Although I could be wrong (as well as logically inconsistent) on that one:

Marie ran up to me the other day in tears and said, "I'm crying and I can't stop."

"Why not?" I asked.

"I just can't," she sobbed.

"But why are you crying in the first place?"

"I don't know!"

There wasn't much I could say at that point, so I gave her a hug.

Later she expressed a desire to go to finishing school so she can become a real princess...

(I'm doomed.)

Yours in a woman's world,


Stop press: At church yesterday, the children were asked to say what's really important to them. With a big grin, Marie stuck up her hand and shouted out, "Jewellery!"


Mayzie said...

I'm so glad I will never have a girl.

DadsDinner said...

She may be awkward but she's extra cute to make up for it.

I still struggle with her hair, though.