Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Twos. I'm Terrible at Them.

It has been almost 16-months since my firstborn was a two-year-old.

During that stretch I had somehow managed to obliterate from my memory exactly how absurd living day-to-day with a two-year-old really is. But, with my second son now hitting the two-and-a-half year mark, I can safely say, like Celine Dion before me, It's All Coming Back, It's All Coming Back to Me Now!

Just this past week I have found myself on the receiving end of tantrums on the following subjects:

  • I lost the car you warned me I'd lose if I brought it to the store.
  • This hot chocolate - it's hot!
  • Make the baby stop looking at me!
  • I don't see any helicopters. I want to see one RIGHT NOW!!!
  • There is something in my nose! It's boogers!
One thing that is awfully familiar this time around is the sensation of being ground down into a fine powder by my two-year-old's seemingly unending stream of irrationality. As a result, I find myself at times rendered frozen by a fear of setting my toddler off by doing something upsetting like, for example, failing to produce appropriately-pleasing aircraft in the skies with my mind. Such anxiety can result in an overwhelming temptation to do pretty much anything in my power to avoid these recurring tempests.

When I had only one child, I was fairly good about resisting this impulse. I was consistent in my blank-facing of bad behavior, I used timeouts judiciously, and I had a zero-tolerance policy for hitting or biting.

And that worked pretty well.

But that two-year-old is now four, and I'm dealing with him and the aforementioned new two-year-old along with an 11-month-old baby. This set of circumstances is making me extremely vulnerable to succumbing to my two-year-old's shriekingly expressed will.

When I am trying, for example, to soothe the teething baby while making dinner as I simultaneously attempt to supervise my four-year-old as he tries out his new two-wheeler in the driveway, I often find that I lack the will to confront my two-year-old when I spy him walking by holding a butter knife that he has made off with from the silverware drawer.

This is NOT because I think it is advisable to have an armed toddler in the home. It is, rather, because I am weighing the hell storm that will reign down upon me in the midst of all else I am trying to accomplish should I attempt to pry it from his tiny paws.

So sometimes instead I give in to the small voice in my head that whispers soothingly,

"That knife your toddler has isn't even that sharp! Why make a big fuss?"


Look, I don't recommend a policy of appeasement when it comes to handling the terrible twos, I'm merely admitting that I sometimes find myself guilty of pursuing one. And I can only hope that perhaps this admission will help you take heart that if you sometimes find yourself following the "path of peace" instead of the "path of sound parenting choices," you are not alone. 

Just last night my husband and I were struggling to get all three kids to bed. The baby was overtired and crabby, and our sons were coming down hard off an afternoon birthday party sugar rush. When I overheard my husband gently attempting to stop our two-year-old from banging a large hole in the wall of his bedroom with a hammer he'd stolen from the toolbox, my only reaction was to shout loudly,

"Please don't antagonize him! I can't deal with the consequences right now!"

Folks, when you have three kids sometimes the path of least resistance can be too tempting to ignore.