I went away on a course a couple of weeks ago for four days and three nights. I left on a Sunday and got back on a Wednesday. On Sunday night before I went to bed at my destination I checked my email and read one from my husband. He told me that while putting our daughter to bed that night she had asked: “Did Mama run away?”
Talk about a knife stab to the heart!
Like my husband said in his email to me that night, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Here I was on a much-anticipated and rare learning getaway on my own for just a few nights, and I’d only just left that morning! Where did our two and a half-year old come up with such an expression?
That experience made me fully aware that I cannot always control the world our little girl is a part of anymore. Sure, I spend more than half of my week with her at home and know everything that goes on in her life during those hours. But she also goes to daycare a few times a week and has also started to watch a bit of TV. Stimulation is coming at her from everywhere these days and of course, she now knows how to talk. We now know what she’s thinking because she tells us. She’s a little mirror to the world around her right now, and it’s plain as day in the phrases that now pop out of her mouth.
Some of those phrases are downright hilarious. The other night, for example, while I was changing her diaper she came out with a loud “Tadaaa!” just as I opened up her diaper to find a mess of poop inside. So funny! I soon deduced that our daycare provider sometimes says that word in the course of a day so Chelsea has picked it up from her.
Other phrases are more worrisome. Yesterday during a car ride back home at the end of the day she came out with: “I’m mad at someone sometimes.” When I asked her who she was mad at, she said it was me! She couldn’t tell me why she was mad at me (I suspected she actually wasn’t, and was just exploring emotion words) but in the next sentence she said she was mad at fireflies. When I asked her why she said “because fireflies are dangerous for me.” What? Where did that come from?
I can see that our daughter is hugely exploring feelings and emotions and concepts right now and figuring out how to express them. And often the world must seem very, very confusing. No wonder the “twos” are terrible for some kids as they try to make sense of what they are seeing and hearing and experiencing every day. From thinking that their mommies have run away to trying to figure out what it means to be mad at someone, our toddlers have a lot to think about. I only hope that I can come up with somewhat simple yet wise words of advice for her that will help her navigate these experiences as they arise. But I may need some help dealing with them as well!