People ask me how it’s going with two (fine, I think; though read on, you may disagree) and if Eve is enjoying being a big sister (jury’s out). She definitely loves him. Possibly too much. There is a lot of kissing (open-mouthed) and she likes to lie on top of him, with her big, heavy two-year-old body. I spend a lot of time elbowing her in the chest to keep her love at bay.
The baby received a silver spoon from my aunt for luck and to welcome him to the world; Eve used it to bash him over the head like he was a boiled egg. She was eating her Shreddies very close to his face the other day when she was overcome by a sneezing fit. The poor baby looked like he had been pebble-dashed. Over dinner recently, she asked, sweetly, “Can I press him… with my fork?” No, you can’t. “Can I snip snip snip his little toes into tiny little pieces?” No, you can’t. “He’s done a vomit on you. Can I do a vomit on you?” No, you can’t. “Can I lick his eyes?” Pause, while I think. Yes, you can.
She likes to tell people all about him, especially things that aren’t true. Like that he is actually a girl. So convincing is she that one nursery mum texted me to check. She doesn’t seem jealous and we are glad of that. Sometimes I wonder if she’s just pleased I’m distracted and she can get on with her business. She has much more time on her hands these days to pursue her own interests. This baby has freed her up no end. There was the incident with my (expensive) dark grey cream eye shadow and her whole entire face. I can only dream of achieving such effective all-over coverage. It was several days and a full bottle of (expensive) eye makeup remover before all traces were gone.
But baby or no baby, Eve’s tantrums are many and varied. About anything. I don’t know whether she is simply being two, or, as Ben helpfully suggested, this is just her personality. Either way, it’s bad. On being offered strawberries: “I don’t want strawberries.” On being taken to the swings: “I don’t wanna go to the swings.” Imagine if I fed her fish guts and took her down a mine. When I asked her to be careful walking downstairs she replied: "I will not be careful," and navigated the rest of the stairs with her eyes closed.
It is beyond irritating to have to bribe your toddler to go to softplay. As most will know, softplay is an altogether unique kind of hell. There are no windows, it smells of chips and feet, and someone has usually done at least a wee down the slide. We go because our children bloody love it. (And they get tired there.) We should not have to cajole the little ingrates into coming with us!
What Eve mainly wants to do is watch the telly and eat ice lollies. We watch a lot of telly and we eat a lot of ice lollies. Peppa Pig is my friend. I also hate her. It’s complicated. The fact is I need television in order to do almost anything: cook the tea, do the washing, dig the crud out of the baby’s neck folds. Anyone who tells you they can get themselves and two tiny people washed, dressed, fed and out of the house before 8am without the use of TV is a liar.
I am aware, however, that we use television like celebrities use the press: when it suits us. “Don’t you want to watch Frozen again?” I bleat as she climbs into the dishwasher “to look for snakes.” “Wouldn’t you like to watch Cinderella?” as she settles down beside the loo to play Little White Men with a box of Lil-lets. But when control (or thereabouts) has been regained, I come over all Blue Peter on her and demand that she turns off Paw Patrol immediately and comes and glues some pasta to a kitchen roll with me. (My craft box needs some work.) So I can see how it might be confusing for her: with one hand I giveth, with the other I taketh away.
Eve refuses ever to wear shoes so she goes about like a workhouse boy from Oliver with me harping on about glass on the pavement and dog poo. (Though she is interested in poo so I try not to mention it too much. “I wanna see the poo” is a favourite when I am changing her nappy. She isn’t bothered about the baby’s poo. It’s only the really offensive stuff she likes.) Her feet seem to be made of rhino skin. She likes a trot across our neighbour’s pebbled front garden (which must hurt), before sitting in the middle like a water feature. When we get home I always find she has pocketed at least half a dozen rocks, as if she’s about to do a Virginia Woolf.
There is a lot of bribery. Though I prefer to think of it as negotiation. I carry a lot of snacks. And no, carrot sticks and a banana won’t cut it. She wants the good stuff. I’m talking Iced Gems, Party Rings and (during one rather desperate episode) After Eights.
But most days, most of the time, I feel like we are winning. We all get dressed. We leave the house. We have fun. I haven’t left either of them on the bus yet. Though does it count as winning when your two-year-old has watched Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 three times in a row and fallen asleep on the couch midway through a Krispy Kreme? Yes, is the answer. Because it’s not forever, because she’s totally fine and because she thinks she's had the best day ever.