I can’t remember when exactly I started thinking of Talitha as a toddler rather than a baby. I look back to a visit home to Trinidad and Tobago when she was a fourteen-month-old flower girl in my brother’s wedding. I think I viewed her then more as a child than a baby.
That blows my mind because Ophelia is sixteen months now and yet I’m surprised whenever I ask her to put her shoes away and she does! Is this a second child thing? Will I forever keep her “the baby” in a way I haven’t with my first?
As if to prove to me that toddlerhood is here, tantrums have begun. Mini struggles that remind me to dig out forgotten strategies of redirection and slowing down. I find myself at times more impatient than I should be because I’ve become used to a child who can mostly be reasoned with. I’ve had a year and a bit of the baby stage, which, though challenging in it’s own way, doesn’t require the type of creativity that navigating life with a brand new toddler demands.
And I feel like I need to read the books – the ones I read before and the ones I never got around to – not just because I’ve forgotten so much of this but because this child is so different from my first. It’s hard to describe just how because Talitha is strong-willed too but maybe Ophelia is more obviously (and more loudly) so. She’s stretching me in ways I remained inflexible the first time around.
More than anything, I need to pause and look at and listen to this child. Drink her in and enjoy her. Slow right down and not rush her through. It’s easy to wish away the stressful moments when I don’t know what to do, when I can’t quickly and simply “fix” her problems.
It’s easy to miss the magic happening in her brain, the building of language, movement, music, creativity, of recognition and relationship. Sixteen months old. She’s still a baby, really. But I’m getting to see the start of the woman she will be.