in june 2010, our lives got turned upside down in the best possible way: the birth of our awesome kiddo, john. in october 2013, brother charlie charged into our life to change the status quo again. and june 2016 brought us brother ben to round out our trio.

i'm proud to have "mom" at the top of the list of titles on my resume, but i'm also still a hard-working professional. how does a working mom juggle work and family? ride along with me and see if i can figure it out!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

on being two

all these tantrums make me sleepy!
officially, john is 22 months old tomorrow (the 18th). but he's been sending one message, loud and clear. if you listen VERY carefully through the screams, the flopping on the floor, and the occasional bite, you will hear this:
i'm two! 

and there are certainly plenty of reasons why they call it the terrible twos. he's headstrong: his way or the highway. he's frustrated: he can't quite communicate what he's thinking. he's loud: he has no concept of inside voices. he's aggressive: he hits, he head butts, and then there are the aforementioned bites. he's angry: he lashes out at all of the above and doesn't yet know how to productively express his ire.

our first effort is always to communicate with him. we encourage him to use his (rapidly expanding) vocabulary to tell us what he needs. we let him know that if he doesn't listen, there will be consequences.

and when that doesn't work, we spank. please don't send me hate mail about that - we have made the conscious parenting decision that for john, that is a disciplinary technique that works. and i have to say that we do see results; despite the twos phase, he is mostly a well-behaved boy who really listens quite well for his age.

sometimes he really pushes it, and the spanking doesn't seem to curb his acting out. so he screams and cries and those big, fat, tears roll down his cheeks.

but eventually, he looks up at us with those big blue eyes and says, "'orry, mommy." (sorry, mommy.)

and then my reward is the 15 minutes of snuggling before night night, when john tells me all about his day, and says night night to the dog, his bed, his juice, his basketball, his ernie shoes (more on that later), and whatever he might think of.

*   *   *
i have been thinking a lot about the twos, and what makes them so "terrible." i'm sure the inspiration for tantrums is drastically different from child to child, but i think the biggest factor for john lies in an inability to express himself. when he can't find a word for what he wants, he frantically points, "this! this!" or pulls you toward it, yelling "that way! that way!"

and when he DOES have the word but we can't understand it, he gets on the "no" train. every parent as been there. the answer to every question is no. he'll say, "cheese please!" and i'll say, "you want some cheese?" and he'll say "NO!"

and when he gets himself all spun up, and the only thing that will come out of his mouth are indistinct moans and snuffles, i can see the frustration on his face. i can see that he wants his noises to be words. i can see in his eyes that he knows exactly what he wants and needs, but just. can't. quite. get. it. out.

*   *   *
and then there are the times when he knows damn well what he should do, and he willfully chooses otherwise. you can read that on his face too. those times are most likely to lead to a spanking. and i hate the spanking ...

but i'll tell you a secret. i really sort of love that he's pushing his boundaries. i think that's his job right now, his whole mission in life: to push, to press, to expand. how else can he figure out what's allowed, what's approved, and what's awesome? how else can he learn the difference between right, wrong, and superlative?

and i think OUR job right now is to show him where those boundaries are. and to let him play in the grey areas a little bit, even if it leads to some bumps and bruises and ultimately some tantrums. but to draw the lines where they should be so that we can raise a knowledgeable little fellow who's not afraid to push the limits, but knows what the limits are.

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