I have come to realise that having a toddler is like living with a tiny, adorable tornado. They possess an uncanny ability to transform a tidy room into a chaotic mess within seconds. They have a knack for finding every hidden object you never knew existed and mealtime is viewed as an opportunity to create abstract art with food, using their face and walls as the canvas. Their favourite word is “no,” and they have mastered the art of tantrums that rival any Olympic sport. Sleep becomes a luxury as they morph into midnight acrobats, and it is impossible (for me anyway) to tie their hair using a hairband or hair clip. Crucially, despite the challenges, their infectious giggles and endless curiosity make every chaotic moment worth it.
Expecting the same pattern of events away from my house, this week, I left the safety of Broomfield to head to a Stay and Play session at my daughter’s nursery. Arriving standardly late, I was warmly welcomed before being led into the magical kingdom that is the Babies 2 room, where Indigo spends most of her days surrounded by like-minded 18-month-old toddlers. Fortunately, my partner Sally had arrived on time and so I was spared the disappointing look from Indigo, who was happy her favourite parent was there to show around.
It is a wonderful thing to be able to stand back and watch your own child play and interact with others. For one thing, her hair had been neatly tied up, something in my mind only a wizard is able to accomplish. For a while, Indigo did not even know I was there and so I watched in wonder as she kindly and carefully shared handfuls of shaving foam with her friends, who returned the favour by gently wiping their shaving foam-covered hands over any adult who dared to walk past. The children were miraculously calm, with no tantrums, no tornados and they were clearly in the routine of carefully putting back anything they used into the place where they originally found it. This got me questioning my parenting style for a moment before I reminded myself that often children are the most hostile to those whom they love the most. This manifests in many ways, and throughout childhood. For me, at present it includes being bashed on the head by metal spoons as I am putting on my shoes to dash to work in the morning.
There is a real simplicity in many of the interactions our youngest children have daily, but at the same time these interactions are pivotal in allowing them to learn, grow emotionally and develop socially. When Indigo realised, I was at her nursery and in her learning space, her face lit up and she immediately led me to her coat and bag peg, keen to show me around. Before long, many other toddlers had joined us in the sand pit, and I quickly spotted the opportunity to pull our resources together and build the greatest sandcastle creation ever known in the Babies 2 room. It was a challenging task, anyone who has spent time with a toddler will know that as much as they like to build things, what they enjoy the most is bashing things back down again, destroying any hope of the perfect castle I imagined we were destined to build. We had all, however, learnt a great deal in our endeavours. Many of the children had on some level learnt the value of working together, I had learnt the importance of not sitting in wet sand and Indigo had learnt that she really enjoys putting sand in my hair, all valuable life lessons.
Children are indeed a blessing and think daily how fortunate I am to run a school with so many wonderfully little people.
All the best for the weekend ahead.