Monday, June 3, 2013

Early terrible two's

So I hesitate to write a post that sounds very complain-y because I'm trying to be conscious of how much I complain (especially when compared in ratio-form to how grateful I should be for all the positive aspects of my life). But, so I don't forget, I think it's important for me to share a little bit about the hardest month I've had as a mom so far.

I had heard that the Terrible Two's can start as early as 12 months. I think in our case they started practically the moment our daughter turned 15 months old.

It was like one morning she woke up and didn't want to do anything. Everything set her off.

Diaper change? Time to scream.

Time to eat? No, time to scream.

You're telling me you want to play on the playground across the street? I take you there, and then you immediately scream?

You get the idea.

I felt like for the six or so hours that she'd be awake in the morning before her nap (she's been down to one nap per day reliably since about 13 months) I spent the whole time trying to figure out what I could possibly do to make her happy, what I was possibly doing wrong. Every question was met with a "no" head shake. (Now she can at least say "no," which is oddly cute.) Every time I put her down for a second, or went to get something from the kitchen, I had to deal with at least 20 minutes of whining.

I tried being super attentive to her every need, talking to her in the sweetest, softest voices I could muster. I'll admit I lost it a couple times, screaming something along the lines of, "What could you possibly need!?"

Now that I have a little distance (a month and a half, to be exact) from those four weeks of unpleasantness, I now realize I really wasn't doing anything "wrong." My child was clearly going through a major, major developmental milestone. All I could do was stand by and keep her safe.

Just days after she turned 16 months old she became the new and improved version of the baby/toddler I've known and loved. My suspicions that she had been going through a major developmental milestone were confirmed by her explosion of language and her much further advanced fine-motor skills. Now she tells me the names of all her body parts and points to all the objects in our house that don't have a direct impact on her life (the clock, the trash can, the umbrella on the deck). Now she spins around in circles and feeds herself with her spoon and fork and pushes her tricycle down the sidewalk. A bunch of new behaviors immediately followed the dark month we endured with her temper.

The parenting lessons I need to hold on to from this experience involve the obvious one -- patience, young grasshopper -- and the reminder that sometimes, no matter what we do, there are some things our kids just have to work out on their own.

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