was going to be the only book.
I had no intention of churning out run-off after run-off on similar themes but once a book is successful publishers are inclined to want an author to keep going.
Publishers love self-help books. Particularly 'parenting' books.
Unlike fiction, they fly off the shelves and, as new parenthood provides a constant revolving door of customers, they have the potential to be nice little earners for decades.
How about a toddler book, you are urged. A pregnancy book? A five to 11 year-old-book? A teenage book? Or maybe a book on the mid-life crisis or the male menopause?
However, I had no interest in writing self-help books that were outside my professional domain for the following reason I felt rather strongly about:
Practical knowledge arising out of hands-on experience gained from seeing wide-ranging clientele - people from different countries, backgrounds, cultures, religions, family structures - over many years cannot be replicated by authors who don't have this experience to draw on for example, researchers, journalists, academics, parents. As far as I was concerned this included child and family health nurses presuming to give advice to parents about teenagers or ten-year-olds.
A toddler book was
feasible as my professional qualifications and expertise did extend to age five. In practice I rarely saw children much over three, however I did see a lot of toddlers.
The thing was, I didn't enjoy the toddler years that much. I was grateful my toddlers were cute and funny and healthy and normal but, owing to my husband's military career, I was on my own a lot.
Frankly, I found the second and third years often onerous, frustrating, exhausting and irritatingly mindless (pushing swings, playing the same repetitive games, trading the same circular irrational conversations, sorting out biting, tantrums and food-throwing not to mention dealing with the never-ending mucous and cough).
Once the third birthday arrived things looked up for me and glad to say by the time the teenage years arrived we were all having a good time.
Give me a teenager to a toddler any day.
Not being a toddler person then, I was reluctant to revisit the toddler years but after some persuasion, I came around to thinking that a toddler book would complete the Robin Barker package.
As I had no idea - in a professional as opposed to a personal sense - what happened beyond the third year, a toddler follow-up to Baby Love
would definitely be my last word on 'parenting'.
Like Baby Love
, The Mighty Toddler
turned into a tome as well. Partly because when I got started I discovered more and more ground I wanted to cover and partly because I wanted to not only write about toddler behaviour, which is the biggest concern for most parents, but about the reasons behind the behaviour.
I realised as I wrote that I'd have enjoyed my toddlers' years more if I'd had a better idea of what lay behind some of their chaotic ways (I didn't study early childhood development until later, hence my ignorance at the time).
Writing The Mighty Toddler
made me think deeply about the miraculous development that goes on in those years.
Even though The Mighty Toddler
appeared long after my own toddlers had grown up, it helped me realise that to truly appreciate the funny captivating ways of toddlers and their freely-given, unconditional love, we have to become more flexible, more tolerant, more patient and more self-disciplined.
Above all, toddlers encourage us to learn to be resourceful in the face of daily uncertainty, disorder and confusion.
Which can't be bad.
PS: That's my granddaughter on the cover of The Mighty Toddler
print edition above).