Recently, it seems that I am having a lot of discussions with people about the Terrible Two's. (Seriously, like every time I turn around!) Let me also be the first to admit that my child is not quite two yet; however, I believe she is already exhibiting some of the hallmark characteristics of the Terrible Two's: expressions of dissatisfaction when told "No," being very, very busy doing everything she is not supposed to do, and oftentimes seemingly ignoring my directives. Although I most definitely get frustrated (some days more than others), I really think that perspective and creativity are a parent's two best friends at this age!
I was particularly frustrated until 1) I had a discussion with my mother, who reminded me that we are dealing with a short phase that lasts till about 2 years old and 2) I did some research online and discovered that there are two phases 18mos - 2 years & 2.5 years - 3 years that are particularly challenging because of all the learning and developing going on within children. I concluded that this is why the Two's are often called the Terrible Two's. They are growing so fast and so intent on exploring everything and every experience that it can be too much for us adults at times. It just really rocks our nice, orderly world!! That being said it is amazing all the work their body completes in brain development during this time period! Some of the most awesome sights and experiences in life are often some of the most terrifying!
This is also an age when I think parents' creativity has to soar! You have to be more creative than your child so you can try to stay one step ahead of them and change your strategies as they change oh so quickly! Each child is also different. With each new experience you learn more as a parent, but there are always going to be new challenges that arise where you have to completely rewrite your strategy! This has been my most challenging job to date but also my favorite job to date. Just when you think you've got everything figured out the game completely changes. That doesn't happen with 8 to 5 jobs! Another difference is you don't get a lunch break. In fact, you don't hardly ever LEAVE your job! What I love about it though is the challenge, the necessity of pushing my creativity to the limits, the chance to pass on all the things that I think are important on to the next generation, and of course my absolutely adorable child!
Although it is difficult to remember when in the trenches, this is a preciously brief moment that I am privileged to be a part of. There will come a day when I will yearn for the days when a cup of apple juice and water will make everything all better, when such simple pleasures as seeing a bird or pulling all of the folded clothes out of the laundry basket is fascinating, and when I can simply say "No you may not" and keep my child from harm.
Sometimes though it is difficult to tell whether or not you are doing a good job. You sometimes feel like you aren't making any progress. I sometimes find it helpful to make a list of very small goals we are working on or small steps to a larger goal we are working on or even goals we are working on for that particular year. When I have a list to go by that is appropriate for my child's age, I can reference it on days I am not so sure and reassure myself that we are on the right track or even re-evaluate our current plan of action. Maybe the things we are working on are too challenging. Maybe I am working on too many things at one time or maybe I am putting her in time-out for lots of infractions instead of focusing on the ones that are the most important to me. Having a list of goals and rules seems to help me remain objective; however, there are still days when I take it personally but hopefully they are fewer and farther between!