petite anglaise

April 13, 2005

too much too soon

Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 12:36 pm

I tiptoe into Tadpole’s room and kneel by her new bed, where she is sleeping peacefully, surrounded by her favourite teddies. I can hear her slow, regular breathing (with a hint of snoring, caused by her blocked nose), and bend to smell the baby shampoo on her honey-coloured curls, noticing a flicker behind her eyelids, which I take to mean she is dreaming. Tears stream silently down my face.

I go back into the living room, where Mr Frog is in his habitual evening position, lying on the chaise longue in front of the window watching TV.

“She looks too grown up!” I wail. “I feel like we’re forcing her to grow up too quickly. She’s not even two yet, and we’re already dismantling her cot…”

Mais non, n’importe quoi, bien sûr qu’elle est prête, elle s’est endormie ravie de son nouveau lit. We’re not forcing her into anything. And anyway, it was your idea, n’est-ce pas?”

I blow my nose loudly and start clearing up the toys and remnants of Tadpole’s dinner from her new mini table and chairs, which she is now using instead of her highchair. Provided, that is, that I sit on the other chair opposite her, which I suspect will not prolong the life of that particular piece of furniture, given I weigh five or six times more than your average infant.

One of the things I find hardest to judge as a parent is when Tadpole is ready for something new. So I end up measuring her against other children, which I know you are not really supposed to do. People I know with slightly older toddlers have bought beds, so I thought we should. Keeping up with the Jones’s. The fact that Tadpole could almost get her leg over the barrier, ballerina style, seemed to suggest that she was outgrowing her cot, but as she goes to bed wearing a straitjacket sleeping bag anyhow, once that is firmly fastened, she’d have to pull a Houdini-like stunt in order to make her escape. The sleeping bag, and the safety barrier on the side of the new bed, are cunningly designed to prevent her from deciding that she would rather play with her train set, or pay mummy and daddy a visit in the middle of the night. Nevertheless I don’t doubt it is only a matter of time before I am awoken by an almighty crash, whereupon I will find Tadpole standing on her head, cocooned legs in the air.

When I pause to think how far we’ve come, I simply cannot get my head around how quickly Tadpole is learning and changing. The progress is so gradual; it is only when I conjure up an image of her crawling in reverse gear this time last year, that I feel overwhelmed by the speed of it all. Back then, she babbled cheerful nonsense, devoid of any actual English or French words, but now she can recite ‘Mary Mary quite contrary’ (glossing over some of the words, like a French speaker doing an approximate rendition of an English pop song, parrot fashion, not fully understanding the meaning of the lyrics). This progress is bittersweet, like the joys and constraints of motherhood itself: on the one hand I look forward impatiently to the day when she will be potty trained, but on the other, I am nostalgic for the snuffly, terrifyingly needy baby animal she was, not so long ago.

And, if I’m honest, I feel slightly guilty for spending weekdays apart from her, unable to savour every minute to the full.


  1. Ah – plus ca change…grandchildren arouse the same regrets. Eldest grand-daughter on her recent trip announced that HER Eek ay -ya -‘big girl’s bed’ – also hoped to see her up to her first need for a double one – WOULD NOT DO: all beds these days had to be high ones, designed to harbour a desk or two underneath, just like those of all her mates. (Vain to point out that as an only child she had a room big enough for a desk elsewhere, unlike them.) You have pleasures to come xx :shock:

    Comment by grannyp — April 13, 2005 @ 1:37 pm

  2. You’re not thinking of jacking it in are you? Or pleading with your boss for a part time job? I did the latter after much sobbing, soul-searching and number-crunching, and can say that it gives me enough time away from my girls to appreciate their company, and enough time with them to love it.

    BTW, after endless evenings spent putting our nearly 2-year-old back to bed a dozen times and mornings being woken at dawn by her wanderings, her younger sister stayed in a cot until she was literally bursting out of it, aged 3 years and 3 months. The transition to a bed coincided with potty training and the whole thing was quite painless. And I kept my baby just a little bit longer.

    Comment by l'autre — April 13, 2005 @ 1:46 pm

  3. How sweet and that’s why my mum called me ‘le petit’ and my brother ‘le grand’ until she passed away. Ah memories…

    Comment by JP — April 13, 2005 @ 1:48 pm

  4. What a beautiful entry, Petite. I’m trying to imagine the straitjacket sleepingbag thing. I bet my parents wished we had that when we were Tadpole’s age, we spent half the night playing instead of sleeping.

    Comment by Aimee — April 13, 2005 @ 2:01 pm

  5. Petite,

    Isn’t it good that you are growing too, thereby you will always be her mom, and she will always be your little kid, whatever age you guys grow up to be.
    My mom, who lives on an entirely different continent, calls up sometimes early morning, to check whether the breakfast was ok or not!! Hmmm. And I am 30 something and she’s about 60 yrs.

    Hey, Tadpole’s two yrs right now, so you say. She will retain her baby attitude for quite sometime for you to laugh, and btw, take videos and stuff, a lot more than you think is necessary! It’s fun to watch them later. Makes for bonnes mémoires.

    Comment by brad — April 13, 2005 @ 3:36 pm

  6. We kept DD in her crib until she was almost 3 and a half. Like l’autre says above, potty-training and adjusting to a big-girl bed worked better together.

    Comment by cass — April 13, 2005 @ 7:22 pm

  7. Lovely post. Every detail in it brings memories.

    Petite, if this makes you feel better: Tadpole was showing signs of wanting to escape her cot, so, the new bed is a smart move security-wise. Believe it or not, it IS possible for a motivated toddler to escape from a cot even with the sleeping bag on – I’ve seen my son do it at age 18 months or so. Needless to say, he was promptly presented with a bed after that.

    Comment by ontario frog — April 13, 2005 @ 9:24 pm

  8. I agree with Brad here! Take LOADS of video! I was embarassed to death when my parents brought them out when I was 14-17, but since then, I’ve been enjoying every moment.

    My grandpa used to tape us on a little handheld journalist-style audio recorder and when he passed away recently, my mother digitized a few clips and it’s fantastic to listen to! I bet Tadpole will love hearing herself babble and blow bubbles when she’s older!

    I just wish they hadn’t filmed me sitting on the toilet singing the theme song to my favourite show when I was 4y/o, that WILL haunt me forever!

    Comment by Vero — April 13, 2005 @ 9:34 pm

  9. The love you have for Tadpole shines through in your writings. But even Tadpoles grow up, you cant fight time or genetics. Enjoy these times with her, (as I know you do)these are precious times, and before too long they are gone for good. Except that they live on in our memories, so that we may embarass them in later life by regailing their friends with tales of their childhood.Embarassing photo’s are always a good idea.

    Comment by Colin — April 13, 2005 @ 10:57 pm

  10. Enjoy this time with Tadpole. Be sure to make the most of it, because it will be over before you know it. One day you will wake up and she will be sixteen. Just like that! That’s the way it was with my little girl …

    Comment by Forest Green — April 13, 2005 @ 11:24 pm

  11. I suspect that you are feeling much as every working mother feels from time to time. If it’s any consolation, my 3 year old has been sleeping in a bed for the last few months and although we do get the occassional visit, it is a lot less traumatic than the head over heels method of cot escapology.

    Love your blog, keep up the good work

    Comment by rae — April 13, 2005 @ 11:27 pm

  12. You know, my dad is such a dinosaur that he had one of those cinecamera things all through our childhoods (like the one in that film where emmanuel beart’s husband goes mad from jealousy) which was in colour, but silent. It was a camera and a projector all in one.
    Then, when I was about 11, he dropped it down the toilet, above which it had hitherto been kept. The insurance people refused to believe that was what happened to it and wouldn’t pay up, also arguing that cinecameras had no real monetary value any more.
    So, I can’t watch my childhood. Until we have all the reels switched to DVD anyway. Or we get a new one on eBay.

    Comment by EasyJetsetter — April 13, 2005 @ 11:31 pm

  13. beautiful post. i just came across your blog by accident and i’m happy i found it!

    Comment by mer — April 14, 2005 @ 3:36 am

  14. HI ! … just wanted to say HI , in fact !

    Comment by Negrito — April 14, 2005 @ 11:24 am

  15. Negrito – it is YOUR FAULT I dreamed of chocolate cakes last night.

    Bad teddy.

    Comment by petite — April 14, 2005 @ 12:16 pm

  16. Petite, the chocolate cake dream,I am sure we want to know, but none of us dare ask….perhaps its best left to the imagination…..Ohhhh I dont know though…thats a bad idea….naughty Teddy.

    Comment by Colin — April 14, 2005 @ 5:34 pm

  17. They’re all different these froglets, my little girl is two and a half and still in a cot which she gets in and out of at least a dozen times an evening, like an elephant ballerina. Her biggish brother got a bed earlier but he too inisted on keeping the gigoteuse even during the 2003 heatwave. I know you’re not supposed to say this, and especially not to people you don’t know, but it sounds to me as if you’re ready for the next one…..

    Comment by Lezzles — April 14, 2005 @ 9:55 pm

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