Baby & Me

Last mile before the clock strikes ‘terrible’

If something happens to me, if for some reason I don’t show up in this space next week, just know Adoti did it. With less than a month to go before the little tyrant turns two, we are well into the terrible stretch. These days, all we have to do is look at her funny and she’s flung herself on the ground, thrashing her legs this way and that way, squealing like a lamb on its way to the naughty chair.

I have both my hands full with the sassy, lil’ miss. All this time I’ve been complaining about nothing. Everything that has gone before is nothing – zip, zero, zilch, nada – compared to the chaos that is unleashed on my household as soon as the girl-child’s feet hit the floor.

So in the spirit of generosity – because misery loves company – here’s what you need to know when you are dealing with a cantankerous almost-two-year-old.

Don’t move

If your child is standing in the middle of the room, with her right thumb in her mouth and her left hand yanking on her earlobe, looking like she’s doing something but in actual fact doing nothing, do not attempt to leave the room. Stand very still and wait for her to start doing something or else be prepared to cushion her head when she throws herself onto the floor.

 Don’t breathe

If you wake up to discover that your toddler is still asleep (only applies if you haven’t found a way to kick her out of your room yet), take a deep breath and hold it. Hold for as long as you can, for as long as you want to have peace. Because as soon as your warm breath can be heard mingling with the cool morning air, your child will rise like Lazarus from the dead and proceed to live her life very loudly.

 You’re not the boss of you

Remember the time when you could sleep for an entire night without a child’s backside lodged between your shoulder and your cheek? You do? Well, those days are gone. And the days when you could sit down for a meal and actually eat the whole of it? Those are gone too. Last night I spent 30 minutes spooning ketchup into Adoti’s mouth with chips. Chips that I should have been eating. Instead, I watched them turn into a soggy, inedible heap. I was tempted to just go ahead and eat them but then I thought, ‘Nah, Jesus didn’t die for this’.  So I had tea and ‘byed’ instead.

Don’t buy expensive stuff

Everything you own is subject to toddler treatment. Everything. So for the sake of your peace of mind, only buy stuff that you can afford to see destroyed. Or in the alternative keep things out of reach. This works for us most of the time. Movable items are stored in places where Adoti’s little fingers can’t do the walking. We thought the immovable ones were safe. But then a few days ago, she managed to pry some wood panelling off the wall, nails and all. I found her sitting in the corner, licking cement dust off her fingers. So now I’m thinking that maybe we should move into a tent. In the desert. Where there is only sand and blue sky.

 Don’t forget that you love them

Early this week, Adoti was drinking water. I was lying on the couch trying to watch news. So the child comes up to me holding the cup to her mouth. “Chunga asikumwagie maji,” Nanny Lucy said. In my head I’m thinking, why on earth would she pour water on me? It seemed beyond absurd even for my toddling tyrant. Shortly, she was trying to get me to drink the water, standing next to my head with the cup extended saying, “Ah-tah (water)! Mum! Ma-mee! Ah-tah!” I didn’t want water and told her as much. Next thing I know she’d tipped the cup over and cold water was coursing down my chest. Nanny Lucy was trying hard not to crack a smile but Adoti was beside herself with laughter. She laughed so hard she was bending over. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. Had I not been in a momentary state of shock, I might have opened the window and thrown the child to the birds. What cheek! It’s in times like these when a mother must remind herself that her child is flesh of her flesh and bone of her bones. That the bond between mother and child is strong.

And that people still hang for murder in this country.