Ellie turns two this weekend and as I’m excited to celebrate, I can’t help but feel the ominous cloud of warnings looming in the background. All the “just wait” phrases that have been prophesied to me, the warnings of tantrums and freak outs, and the most treacherous of all, beware of the “terrible twos.” (insert thunder clap and lightning bolt) I have to say, these foreboding dark predictions are casting a big shadow on the year to come. Every time I respond with, “almost two” after someone asks how old she is, they smile, but all I hear is, “Congrats, your life is gonna suck.”
I think there is a big difference between expecting something to be awful versus being prepared to handle the challenges to come. Maybe not even prepared, but at least open to accepting and dealing with the changes. I know I haven’t lived with a two year old yet, so all you experienced parents may be shaking your heads calling me an idiot. “He’s so innocent and uncorrupted it’s too cute. But he’s still wet behind the ears and has no idea.” Yes, I agree, it may be wishful thinking. But just as Ellie’s first year was no picnic, I’m not expecting this coming year to be a cake walk either. I just don’t want to go into this year setting both myself and Ellie up for failure expecting the worst.
It’s like I’m taunted by it everywhere. In the media, parenting magazines, warnings from other parents and relatives (even my mom), and babycenter.com has been sending me e-mails repeatedly about it too! “How to Handle the Terrible Twos.” It’s like as soon as Ellie turns two she is going to get a disease. The doctor will say, “It’s confirmed, she has the terrible twos. Good luck. Make sure you get a sucker on your way out.”
Now, I’m not naive to the fact that they call it the terrible twos for a reason. You don’t get a name like the “terrible twos” if it was all sunshine and gummi bears. Just the other day, Ellie was crazy. Like, you could see it in her eyes crazy. When that happens I can only hope that she’ll be back to normal after a nap, but sometimes I’m not so lucky. And that day, I was not so lucky.
Something happened and she was no longer my child. She cried and screamed, pushed me, pulled me, and hit me begging me to put on her favorite TV show. She was an intense ball of aggression mixed with snot, tears, and spit. All for a TV show. She cried for over an hour until Aya got home. I could have ended the fiasco by turning it on, but I held strong. I would not be bullied! I could totally see how the terrible twos got it’s name. I could see the clouds rolling in, ready to stomp my spirit as I was tempted to give in and say, “It looks like a case of the terrible twos!”
I don’t like the term and the immediate labeling of any tantrum or fussy attitude to the terrible twos. It doesn’t seem fair to Ellie. She doesn’t stand a chance against a label like that, and neither do I. So I’m going to quietly boycott the term and refrain from using it. And in its place, I propose a name change.
Instead of the “terrible twos,” how about the “transformational twos?” It seems more fitting to me. It’s what it really is, isn’t it? Won’t Ellie be going through changes at an exponential rate? Experiencing new tastes, smells, sounds, words, sentences, experiences, and emotions and absorbing everything she’s exposed to? And not only transformational for her, but also for me as a parent. I have the major task of potty training coming up. Or as I call it, toilet guidance consultation. Hopefully, when we are all done with all this transforming, Ellie will be more emotionally adjusted and pooping in a place better suited for pooping. And hopefully I’ll be more emotionally adjusted and be done with changing diapers.
All I can do is be open to everything that happens and try to stay level headed and maintain some sort of positivity. Because if it’s not the terrible twos, it’ll be the treacherous threes, the formidable fours, or the why-did-we-have-children fives that get me. The next thing I’ll know, Ellie will be sixteen and I’ll be thinking, “Two more years and it’ll all be worth it.”
So Happy Birthday to my special little lady! Terrible twos or not, I’m ready and looking forward to our transformations this coming year.