I feel that we’re caught in some kind of limbo. My daughter is about to turn five and yet, in so many ways, she’s still like a baby.
She can run, and jump (oh, can she jump!), kick a ball and ride a trike with the pedals, but she still wears nappies. She shows no awareness at all when it comes to having a wee, so we haven’t even attempted trying to train her. Well, I did once, for about two hours. Two disastrous hours where she would sit on the toilet for a while and then wet herself about a minute after getting off it. Every time. I couldn’t do it, I admit. She just had no idea. So, nappies it is. Only she’s getting big. We’re in the maximum size that can be bought in the supermarket now and I haven’t yet looked into where we go next. I’m hoping to not need to know, but I don’t know how long I can hope that she’ll suddenly ‘get it’ and we won’t need the nappies at all.
She can talk, she can sing, she can recite huge chunks of her favourite shows, but she can’t tell you how old she is. It’s hit and miss as to whether she’ll even tell you her name if you ask her. She has no idea of what you’re asking her when you say “ooh, it’s your birthday soon, how old will you be?” I’ve worked with countless toddlers over the years who have proudly told me they’re three, four or even two – and they were. But Tink? She doesn’t understand that there’s a number to define her, to categorise her.
She can use a fork and spoon – when she wants to, she can drink from an open cup (although she still gets a bit eager and tips it down herself, but that’s lack of practice more than anything!) and she will ask for food when she’s hungry and drink when she’s thirsty, but she still has her milk in a bottle. We’ve had the same bottle and the same, well-worn, really-needs-replacing teat for almost all of her five years. She refuses to drink milk out of any other cup and I’m frightened to replace the teat in case she refuses that too and won’t drink any at all. She has a limited-enough diet as it is, and her twice-daily bottle of milk is the only real calcium she gets. Her bottle is such an integral part of her morning and evening routines that it’s easier to carry on with it than risk rocking that boat!
She cries, she laughs, she tells me where it hurts and she asks if I’m ok if she happens to see me cry, but she still has a dummy. It’s her security, her binky. She didn’t used to have it all the time – it’s a more recent thing. It was only for sleeping, but as her anxiety levels began to rise, as her autism became more apparent, she wanted it more and more and gives us hell if she can’t have it. Occasionally we manage to get her to give it up for a while if she’s totally distracted by something else, but as soon as she realises, she panics and shouts for it, even saying “deedee, where are you?” as if it’s alive. And then there’s the oral feedback she gets from it. Before she had it in pretty much constantly, she would suck and lick her fingers, or put other objects in her mouth. I kinda prefer the dummy.
I know we say we don’t want our babies to grow up – I say it to H all the time! But, really, there are some parts of babyhood that I wish Tink would leave behind now she’s almost five.