Thursday, May 1, 2014

Pursuing Perspective

G is almost three.

In a matter of just a few weeks he will be three. I have a hard time thinking about it.
But one thing stands out to me.

He never went through "Terrible Twos".

Neither did M.

In fact, I'm not even sure what the "Terrible Twos" are. I've heard stories. I've heard horror stories. I've seen some really terrible two year olds in my time as well.

But here's the thing...Ya'll are going to be surprised to hear this...And I hope you stick with me...I'm gonna be a little radical here.

It's my belief that there is no such thing as "Terrible Twos" or "Troublesome Threes".

Yep...Read it again.

It's a myth.

I have experience with this. I have two boys and both of them have been two.

Both of them were destructive. Both of them were delightful.

Both of them told me no. Both of them told me to "go away".

Both of them colored on my walls. Both of them tore up books.

Both of them wore more food than they ate. Both of them have woken from naps looking like this:

Gabriel at age 2. He was channeling Einstein. boys were normal, crazy, silly, funny and drove me insane.

But I never felt like they were in the midst of some mythical moment in their lives that needed to be classified as "terrible".

No...I treasured the twos. TREASURED them!

Two years old is independence. Learning their limits. Discovering their world. They were so busy all the time. One minute here and the next in the bathroom. One minute giving me kisses and then the next begging to watch The Lion King.

Incidentally, both of my fellas love The Lion King. I've come home from work every day this week to find both M and G sitting in front of the television watching Simba and company. Just another bond they share that I find beautiful.


When M was two he LIVED for Simba. He went through something like three VHS tapes because he would watch the movie and then rewind it and watch it again. He learned the buttons on the VCR from watching me and by the time he was three he would wake up in the mornings on weekends, walk out to the living room and turn on the TV and put in his most recent copy of the movie and settle in to watch. I'd wake up to hear Be Prepared or I Just Can't Wait To Be King and know that he'd be hungry by the time (SPOILER ALERT) Mufasa died.

I recently replaced our DVD copy that seems to have disappeared and the two of them have watched it every day since I bought it. G walks around with a plastic pig toy saying "They call me MR. PIG!!!" and then rushing at anyone near him yelling "AHHHHHH!!!". So funny. He really loves when we all run screaming in fear like the hyenas.

I digressed....Sorry 'bout that.


This is a word that has been a mantra for my life as a mom.

My perspective when M scribbled on my walls?

Walls wash and I wanted to paint it anyway. As soon as he understood he was not supposed to color on my walls (which we started teaching him that day) I painted my living room the most beautiful shade of green. Now I have G and it's about time to paint them again.

Potty training?

It'll happen when they are ready and not a moment before. M trained himself. We showed him how. We let him set his pace. We offered no incentives. No bribes. Nothing. If he wanted to go he went. If he didn't, he had pull ups. But we took him with us and we asked him often if he wanted to go. The result was he ran out of pull ups at daycare one day and had to be put in underpants. My best friend picked him up for me because I had to work late and when I went to pick him up from her I grabbed him for a huge hug and patted his bottom and didn't feel a diaper.

Turns out she didn't even realize he hadn't been wearing a diaper because he would just go potty without saying anything. He never wore another diaper. And he only ever had two accidents.

I firmly believe it's because we didn't push him. We used perspective and put ourselves in his shoes (pull ups?) and waited for him to lead. You've heard of Baby Led Weaning? We practice Toddler Led Potty Training.

Husband-Man and I have started telling G that once he turns three we are going to start using the potty more. So far he's on board with it. He doesn't seem worried or scared and because he senses we aren't pressuring him I hope it stays that way.

Two years old is an incredibly fun age. But you, as the parent, have to be willing to alter your  perspective to allow yourself to embrace it. Be two again through your child's eyes. Experience the world for the first time with them.

She refuses to use her fork for spaghetti? Maybe it's because she loves the texture of the noodles against her skin. There is plenty of time to teach her table manners. And she is washable.

If he keeps pulling the books off the shelves...Remove the ones he can reach (even if it's all of them) and replace them with his toys and his books. Then you can work with him on putting his toys back on the shelves when he is done playing with them. Give him the power to discover organization. On his terms.

Two year olds don't understand they they are stressing you out. But they do understand that you are upset with them. And that stresses them out and reduces their ability to learn.

They don't understand that its a bad thing to pour the whole Brita pitcher in the overflowing dog bowl. They are just trying to help. Doing what they've seen you do.

Two year olds are still learning to communicate. They are getting better at it but they still can't really communicate their emotions. When he is frustrated...don't make it worse by getting frustrated yourself. Stop. Think of how horrible it must be to not be able to express yourself and gather patience.

When we couldn't understand what G wanted when he was asking for something or needing something we would give him our hand and ask him to show us. 100% of the time he would take us to the issue, or what he wanted and we were able to understand his needs. We'd say "Oh, you want waffles? OK. I'll make you waffles" and he would smile and dance and there were no tears.

Give them chores. Let them wash dishes with you. Let them set the table.

G loves nothing more than standing on a chair at the sink while I'm cooking and using sponges and bottle brushes to wash his plastic dishes for his play kitchen. he makes a heckuva mess..but its worth it to see him happy and hear him humming and 9 times out of 10 I needed to mop the floor anyway.

And he absolutely LOVES setting the table. I'll get the plates down and he starts hooting and hollering and dancing and when I hand him the first plate to carry into the dining room he crows "Thank you!!!" It's not a chore to him. It's a big boy job and he is helping me. I don't worry about him breaking my plates either. if he does...meh. I need new plates any way.

Nothing is more important than him growing and learning and expanding his world. Brokern dishes and water on the floor are minor when you think about the other things he is learning from these activities.

There is no such thing as "terrible" any age. There is a such thing as you, the parent, not adapting and changing your perspective.

They're only two once. Let them be two. Or three. Or four.

Embrace the chaos and stop crying over spilled milk. Mop it up, pour a new cup and kiss that sweetie of yours while they are still small enough to pat your face with chubby hands and kiss you back with sticky lips. You'll miss it when its gone. I promise.


PS. Don't forget to be social. You can find me on Facebook here and follow me on Twitter @InANutShelley. You can also find me on Instagram as InANutShelley. Can't wait to hear from you.