My Parenting Perspectives column from March 16 …
This week, we enter the “terrible twos.” Eve’s second birthday is Friday.
I’ve been turning that alliterative phrase around in my head a lot lately, wondering why this particular year of life has been deemed so dreadful, and why it’s inspired someone to create an online calculator that counts down the number of days, hours and minutes until your child isn’t 2 anymore.
Obviously, there are the temper tantrums. We’ve been dealing with some of that “terrible” behavior for months.
Eve had her first full-blown public meltdown at 18 months, pulling my hair so hard tears sprung to my eyes. We left the children’s clothing store straight away, leaving the size 2T jeans I’d picked out in the middle of the aisle.
To think the willful behavior begins at 2 is naïve. And to declare an entire era of a child’s life “terrible” is awfully defeatist. I feel like it sets parents up for a year of torment.
There is a lot of wonderfulness that happens during the second year, too. And it all stems from the same place: a toddler exerting her independence.
The twos are a time of exploration and learning, of testing boundaries and limits. Toddlers test you. They say “no,” repeatedly. They scream. And hit. And bite. It’s frustrating, at best.
Other times, this exploration is awe-inspiring. I’m amazed every day by what my daughter absorbs.
The way she mimics me talking on the phone or putting on lipstick. How she can point out landmarks while we drive around town. She now remembers things that happened days, even weeks ago.
As each week passes, she’s able to do something she couldn’t do the week before, like take off her coat by herself or sing another nursery rhyme.
Sure, there will be battles of will this year. Tempers will flare. Tears will flow. I need to establish routines, set limits, discipline inappropriate behavior. We’ll tackle potty training, a messy hurdle for every new parent.
But I’m choosing to look at this optimistically. My toddler is developing, learning about the world and herself.
Is that so terrible?
Sherri Richards is mother of an almost 2-year-old daughter and employee of The Forum. She’s also “Top Mom” at http://moms.inforum.com