Mommy lesson #45: Dealing with a baby-turned-toddler who has an independent streak a mile wide

If you’re wondering where I was last week, I apologize. It was my week to post over at Mosaic of Moms, but I forgot to let my faithful Salty Cinderella readers know. I wrote two posts for the Read 15 Minutes a Day Summer Reading Challenge. In the first post, here, I waxed poetic about my passion for reading. In the second post, here, I gave some tips from my reading teacher toolbox on how to help your child understand the story better.

Well, it’s happened. Charlotte is officially walking, which means she is also by definition a toddler. Bye bye babyhood, hello new chapter full of exploration and independence. Baby Girl has always been super curious about the world around her, and she is loving that she can now move and have her hands free at the same time. She’s taken to carrying things around with her – blocks, her bottle, the container of boogy wipes, a box of diaper genie refills…whatever she can pick up will now get carried around and then dropped whenever she loses or balance or finds something more interesting to hold. Yesterday I found my phone in the middle of the hallway. Going to have to learn to be more careful about keeping my stuff out of Little Britches’ reach.

We’ve also suffered the sticker shock of purchasing shoes for our new walker. Holy cow those things are expensive! Of course I want her to have good support and flexibility while she’s learning to walk, so I’ll pay the price, but yikes. Chris was sure she only needed one pair of shoes. So far she has at least ten. Two pairs of  Stride Rite mary janes (white and brown, for different outfits obviously), some white “dressy” faux patent-leathers, pink sandals with a closed toe and heel, Nike tennis shoes, and a few more pairs of sandals in assorts styles and colors. Chris just shakes his head when I point out that I myself have at least twenty pairs of shoes, and how can he expect our daughter to be any different?

 With this new milestone has come an interesting side-effect: a fierce new independence. Baby Girl has always had a mind of her own, but she is definitely expressing her own opinions more and more. She’s even started throwing mini-tantrums when I won’t let her do what she wants. Today I had let the dog out and was standing at the back door waiting for Elphie to finish her business and come back inside (our dog won’t do anything unless you stand at the door and watch…she has issues). Charlotte has always loved it when the door is open and she can see outside, but lately she’s wanted to join the dog in the yard. Today when I blocked her attempts to descend the steps leading to our porch she threw herself backwards over my arm then laid down on the floor, wailing. I ignored her and it only lasted about five seconds, but whoa. I wasn’t expecting tantrums to start until around age two. Did I get the timeline wrong, or is my child simply precocious in this area?

Now that she can walk, that’s all C wants to do. Riding in shopping carts and the stroller, always a pleasant diversion in the past, is becoming too restrictive for Miss Independent. This morning I made a quick trip to the department store to see if I could find some shorts (I recently cleaned out my closet and got rid of about two-thirds of my clothes, none of which fit anymore. A super freeing exercise, but it left me with a seriously depleted wardrobe). I stuck Charlotte in the stroller but didn’t bother buckling her in, thinking it would be a quick trip. My mistake became quickly apparent when Baby Girl, impatient with staring at racks of clothes while Mama searched for her size, started wiggling around in the stroller, trying to get free. The next time I glanced down I saw she had completely escaped and was standing calmly in front of the stroller, grinning and babbling in glee. I was in a state of shock. I’m not sure how she did it…I guess she must have slithered out the bottom and then stood up. I’m sad to say I fear my shopping trips will become few and far between if my little shopping companion decides she wants to start exploring the stores on her own.

I have mixed emotions about this new stage. I love that Baby Girl is fearless and curious, able to occupy herself more and for longer periods of time. I love that she is so expressive and vocal about her feelings, the good and the bad. I absolutely love it when she toddles up to me, reaching up her arms for a hug and a kiss. But oh my. I can see the rough waters ahead. To quote one of my favorite Disney classics (The Emperor’s New Groove): “Uh-oh. Don’t tell me. We’re about to go over a waterfall. Yep. Sharp rocks at the bottom? Most likely. Bring it on.”

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