Making himself understood


The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

Séimí turned two in January, and his ability to communicate is coming on all the time. He hasn’t a whole pile of words yet but, believe me, he can make himself understood. He comprehends an awful lot for his age and is only dying to be able to talk like his older sister and brother.
Ask him a question and if the answer is negative, he will scream ‘no, no, no, no, no!’ and shake the head vigourously. If it is a yes, you might get an ‘eh’ or a ‘ya’ or a ‘yesh’. If it is something to be really pleased about, you’ll get this little cheeky giggle of accomplishment.
It’s great to see the communication skills coming on, but the trouble is that because Séimí can now make himself understood, he believes the natural consequence is that he’ll be able to get whatever he wants, whenever he wants it.
So he will point vigorously to the fridge, the cereal press or the snacks press, and if you don’t open it, he will let you know all about it.
The temper tantrums are quite the experience, and they get so full on that he brings on a cough. The ‘terrible twos’ are called that for a reason. The phase usually involves meltdowns when the at-times-tyrannical two year olds don’t get what they want.
This attitude has, unfortunately, extended to naps and bedtime.
Séimí has taken to crying and pointing back to the sitting room most afternoons and nights, resisting being brought to bed, even though the eyes are sunken in his head with tiredness and he has had a supper and milk to help him go down.
We’ve tried a few different methods to get round this (turning back and returning to the sitting room is met with that cheeky little giggle, as much to say ‘ha ha, I won’ – not to be encouraged), so we’ve taken to the last resort – the ‘cry it out’ method. It is exactly what it says on the tin and something that any parent will find difficult, but there comes a time when you just have to take charge and draw the line.
The first time we did it, Séimí cried for a few minutes before giving up. Now, the cries will last a matter of seconds and then he puts the head down and drifts off.
Unfortunately, he is often inclined to wake anytime between 4am and 7am and not really be in the mood for going back to sleep. This reluctancy bolstered by him again thinking he can get what he wants.
Trust me, it’s a long day if you are up with Séimí at 5am, trying to entertain him and keep him relatively quiet in the sitting room so as to not wake up Frankie and Éamon.
That pair are great sleepers. They’ve a Groclock sleep-trainer clock in their room, which has starts for the nighttime and you set a time for the sun to come on. In our house that’s 7.45am, and both are really good at sleeping in until then.
Hopefully Séimí will aspire to be like his big sister and brother – and pretty soon too.

In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.