Thursday, June 28, 2012
Not the Terrible Two's
It's almost inevitable. You have just taken out your little baby for his first trip. He's sleeping peacefully and you cannot help but stare and smile at him. You are rightfully basking in the delight and awe that has overtaken your life. You may be at church or at the supermarket when another mother or older woman, comes along and says 'Oh just look at him sleeping so soundly, what a cute little baby' but before you can say thank you and agree with her she adds on what she really wanted you to know. 'But you just wait, you still have the terrible two's to come!' You are just digesting her comment when she adds in one more piece of encouraging news 'And then they become teenagers!'
Talk about popping your bubble. If this is your first baby you are now thinking ahead to that significant birthday and wondering just what the second year will hold for you. I can remember wondering just when the first tantrum would happen and why so many people called it the terrible two's and insisted on letting new mothers know just what they had to look forward to. Was it really that bad? I shuddered at the thought.
I have a two year old. This is my seventh experience of having a two year old. We have another six months of having a two year old and I don't want it to be over. I want to let you know that it is not the terrible two's and I refuse to use that description or to sow seeds of fear, dread and negativity into the mind of another mother or mother to be. I want to tell you that it can be terrific and one of the most rewarding times of a mother's life.
It is not without its challenges of course and let's be realistic your patience will be tested, sorely at times, but knowing how quickly this tender and beautiful age passes by I have determined more than ever to enjoy every moment.
Here are just a few of the reasons why I believe that two is terrific and not terrible.
It's an age when you can observe the delight and wonder at new experiences. To see his face light up when he strokes the feathers of a bird for the first time or holds a frog in the palm of his hand. The joy of jumping on a bouncy castle and realizing it's fun to fall over. Going down the big slide for the first time by yourself. I want to be there and not miss out of any of these times in his life.
I spend much more time these days watching and listening. Even when driving I hear his chattering, I turn down the radio and tune in to my two year old. I realize he is making up a story - complete with dialogue! Imagination is blossoming and I am there to experience it all unfold.
Language and learning happens at a rapid rate. New words every day! My boy is a parrot and will attempt to repeat any word no matter how long that you ask him to say. He is speaking in sentences and his favorite question is 'What are you doing?' If I tell him I am about to bake a cake he races over to the table and drags over a chair.
They are eager to help and eager to please. One of the memories I am going to cherish is my son's determination at two to help carry groceries. On one particular occasion he insisted on carrying a long loaf of french bread. It was taller than him but he hugged it close to his chest as we walked (slowly) out of the supermarket to our car which was parked quite a distance away. It took us forever to reach the car that day. We kept having to stop as the bread kept slipping out of his grasp. Onlookers smiled at the sight and pointed out my little helper to their companions. He never gave up, he had an important job to do and I had to let him complete it no matter how long it took. Eventually, we reached the car. The door was slid open and he tossed in the bread with a contented gasp. He felt so proud of his accomplishment and I thanked him for helping to carry the bread for me and marveled at his determination to finish a task. Of course now he has decided that carrying French bread is his job and we have to allow extra time for that. It's a sacrifice that is so worth it and when you are carrying French bread you don't tend to notice the lollies at the checkout!
I hardly use the stroller these days. My little boy loves to walk alongside me and most of the time he wants to hold my hand. This means my phone needs to stay in my bag and I don't care if I miss a call. I would rather hold his hand than a mobile. A day will come when he will not need to hold my hand so I am treasuring the hand holding days.
Love is given unconditionally and I am trusted implicitly. He believes everything I tell him though I'm not sure if he really believed me when I told him that his sister had been chased by monkeys. (She really had during her recent trip to Malaysia!) He is always delighted to see me, especially in the morning and if I leave him for a time in the care of his dad or older sister he races out the door to greet me on my return.
He wants to spend time with me - right now. He brings over a book and asks me to read it. I have a cloth in my hand and a counter that needs to be wiped down but not right now. I down tools and head for the sofa. He has quite an attention span for a two year old and an appetite for books. We finish one book and he fetches another. The crumbs on the counter will just have to wait!
He looks down at me from his dad's shoulders. It's a great vantage point for watching the Anzac parade. He is excited to see the soldiers on horseback but even more excited to see the vintage cars. I realize that one day soon he will look down at me again but this time he will be standing tall. And two will seem like yesterday. I will tell him what he was like at two, the things he did and how he loved to help me carry the French bread sticks.
So if you dare mention 'the terrible two's' to me please do not be too upset if I tell you that they are not terrible. Even if it was a trying time for you as a parent can I humbly request that you don't use that description especially when you are in the presence of a new mother. Terrible is a horrible word to use and that just happens to be one of its synonyms. Its dictionary definitions include 'distressing', 'severe' and 'extremely bad'. It comes from the Latin word 'terribilis' which means 'to frighten' which is what we might just do when we 'warn' a new mother about the trials of the different ages and stages that she has yet to face. Other synonyms for terrible are 'fearful', 'frightful' and 'dire' - is that how you really want to describe a time in a mother's life which may just be for her one of the most delightful of all?
And if you are the mother of a two year old here are some words of wisdom I came across on pinterest that inspired me to write this post. I hope that this little poem acts as a loving and gentle reminder of what to do when you have a two year old!