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Dad Life with Josh Zimmerman: Where did my sweet baby go?

Toddlers traditionally do two things: walk and whinge.

The first is a work in progress for Cleo. I suspect because she’s dedicating all her time to the second.

Very young babies can be frustrating. They do irrational things like crawling off the change table and swallowing pebbles.

It’s easy – well, possible – to see the humour in your daughter slamming her foot into a dirty nappy and splattering its contents all over your suit shortly before you leave for work when you know it’s unintentional.

But it hits different when you’re overcome by the creeping realisation something more sinister is at play. That the groceries strewn across the kitchen floor aren’t random chaos. That the bathroom door re-arranging your nose might not be a mistake.

Cleo, seemingly without warning, has developed that most terrifying of childhood traits: attitude.

The sweet child who discovered how to clap just two short months ago has now transformed – through the discovery that banging objects besides hands together also makes a satisfying sound – into a noise-polluting tyrant.

Whether it’s the toilet seat, the cat’s water bowl or mum’s phone, Cleo’s overriding instinct is now the same: what is the nearest thing I can smash this against?

And don’t even think about trying to stop her.

Getting between Cleo and the object of her desire reminds me of trying to break-up fights during my time as a Northbridge glassy. Thankless, pointless and painful – and that’s if you avoid getting coward punched.

There are some things Cleo has always disliked – namely getting dressed, changed or out of the bath.

Her hatred for all three is rapidly approaching legend status.

Jade and I now run around the house shutting the windows and doors before attempting to change her nappy out of fear the neighbours will call child protection.

I legitimately fear what will happen if she stumbles into the constant disappointment that accompanies her father’s Fremantle Dockers fandom. I’m not sure even double-brick would survive the fallout from a shanked Nat Fyfe set shot.

Cleo’s petulance is now matched only by the cat, Harley. In fact, that might be whom she is taking her cues from.

This is a creature that, since the day we adopted her, has moved forward both her daily bowel movement and cries for dinner in 30-second increments.

That means three hours of meowing for food from 3pm, followed by 40 minutes of scratching in her litter from 3am.

I suppose I should be happy that our daughter’s vocabulary has begun to expand.

Rather than a non-stop refrain of “yayayaya” overlaid against the sound of toilet paper being unravelled at high speed we are now occasionally treated to “duck” or – when she spots the cat – “Ar-yee”.

“Dada” is reserved only for when Cleo has a fistful of my hair and is trying to acquaint my forehead with the carpet.

It could be worse.

“Mama” only gets rolled out when Cleo is loudly expressing her displeasure at being put down for a nap.

As alluded to at the start of this column, the one area in which Cleo is now making frustratingly slow progress is walking.

Standing is now a breeze and there was a brief window during which she would take three or four steps to traverse small distances between things she intended to throw on the floor.

We appear to have hit a roadblock in the past week however, with Cleo reverting to her favourite mode of transport – the speed crawl.

I’m convinced this is another ploy from our soon-to-be-toddler. I’m sure she can sense I’m itching to tell her to take a hike.

Jade’s tips from the trenches

If you’re eventually planning to enrol your little one into daycare, it can be helpful to pop them onto a waitlist now, with some centres experiencing six-month queues.

Insulated food containers are a useful purchase for when you’re out and about and want to serve your baby a warm meal.

Cleo is starting to become a bit more intrigued with musical instruments. Love Note Co sell beautifully crafted instrument sets to start babies on their musical journeys.

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