They call it the terrible twos for a reason, I suppose. I have two who are two -- yes, twins. Try not to wince, I promise it's wonderful (most of the time). Still, I guess that means two terribles. But they are terrifically terrible and totally trouble in the best way. And I've discovered that it's not only the kids that have a reign of terrible twos, it's the parents. We experience our own terrible time when our kids turn 2. I mean, it's just harder.
To all the twin parents who said it will get easier when our babies were just wee little babies, I now know what you were really doing. You were lying, giving us the pep talk to let us know we can get through it. You see, these kids ... they used to depend on me for food and cuddles and singing songs, and now they depend on me for all that and to save them from themselves. What I do most of the day is try to keep these little daredevils alive. You see, everything you feared about having a 2-year-old is true. Possibly even worse.
Two-year-olds don't listen. What I heard is that they actually hear you, but it won't really register until they are closer to 3. Which means you become a broken record. Start coming up with new creative ways to say 'no' because you'll get so sick of yourself saying it, you will start not listening to you. Sounds crazy? Yep. That's what happens when your kids turns 2. A dose of crazy for everyone.
They want to be really independent. Great in some ways; horrifying in others. This means they want to eat cereal without your help. Which also means you will have milk and cereal all over everything nearby and across the room. Plan ahead. Put plastic protectors over everything and get yourself a hazmat suit. This also means they may not want to be in the stroller and they may instead want to hold your hand and walk and they may also decide just as you are nearing the busy intersection that they are going to let go of your hand and run into the street. Two-year-olds are stealthy. And fearless.
Picky eaters will put you in the worst mood ever. My daughter eats anything in front of her (including boogers) and my son prefers chewing on toys and paper, which isn't very nutritious. I've talked to other parents going through this ... and meal time can be the most frustrating part of the day that will lead you to question yourself and your kid. But I've learned we need to look at their food intake for the week, not the day. Still. Drives me nuts.
Nap time can be hell. If kidlet doesn't nap during the day, then it's cranky pants time. When it's clear your child is sleepy, you'll try to lull them into 'taking a nappy' as we call it in my house. Thing is ... some kids ... well, they have their own rules. My daughter's nap rules include lying next to her and putting my hand on her belly. Then two minutes later the hand must leave the belly. Then two minutes later my hand must return to her belly. And I cannot move. At all. Of course this is most likely the case for bed time. Though that will feel like nap time because the duration of toddler sleep is kinda like naps. We had a party at 3 a.m. the other night when my son woke up asking about basketballs.
They climb out of cribs. If your child is in a crib, prepare yourself for that time she may climb out of it in the middle of the night and appear at your bedside, put her face close to yours, and in the complete darkness, rub your husband's arm and say in what sounds like a British accent even though she is American: "Hello Daddy!"
Tantrums are horrible ... for you. Some kids seem to think that lying on the dirty sidewalk, dog poop not five feet away, and screaming while arching their back so it's nearly impossible to pick them up will make you let them have their way. Sometimes they are absolutely right.
They start being meanies on the playground. No one likes a mean kid. But you will have to like yours because you're stuck with him for life. Your kid might be the one who throws sand in the little kids' eyes or steals the ball from the wobbly 1-year-old. It's lame. It's also lame to be the parent of the kid who has his own ball stolen from him. Because then you have to be the meanie and get it back. In short: the playground is a conflict zone.
They take over your entire house. If you think you will be able to contain your child's things in her room like you have in the first year or so of her life, think again. Kid stuff will be everywhere. And you will have to toddler-proof your entire house. The more you accept this, the happier a parent you will be.
You can no longer have your stash of sweets within sight. Those cookies that are bad for kids but oh so delicious for adults who don't go absolutely bonkers when they get a little sugar in their system will have to live in creative, new places. Because even if you have them in the cabinet way up high, your toddler will see it if you happen to open said cabinet when she is nearby. And you may think she doesn't know the word for dark chocolate peanut butter cups, but she does. Oh, she does and she will want to eat them and smear her chocolately hands all over your white chair.
Potty training is the elephant in the room you really don't want to discuss. But you have to. And you will. But it will be just like being constipated. It's often slow going. Patience is needed. It's funny how here is our chance to be diaper-free and yet so many of us are fearful of the potty training stage.
Now this doesn't mean your kid is going to be just like everything I described. Because every little spawn is different. Some are little perfects who clearly will make it up to you when they become teenagers. Remember that if you feel the need to brag that your child is nothing like anything I described above. Congratulations! And good luck!
Of course, I cannot leave this writing without really driving home the point that having a 2-year-old is amazing (and being that I have two, it's doubly so) ... even with the crazy circus that comes along with it. Example: After a particularly stressful day involving too much ice cream, a public meltdown, crying while lying on the sidewalk, and wiggle out of a hand-hold to nearly run into the street which nearly gave me a heart attack, my daughter gave me the biggest hug and looked me in the eye and said in her adorable voice (that really does sound British sometimes), "Mummy, I luff you."
I told my 2-year-old terror I luffed her, too. And I meant it.
How are you surviving the terrible twos? Do any of these sound familiar?
Image via Michele Zipp