As a nurse told Kelly the other day, we’re fortunate that Ian has already started his Terrible Twos. I had never heard the words ‘fortunate’ and ‘Terrible Twos’ used in the same sentence before.
Until now, this milestone of Ian’s development has been a general phrase of impending doom, like ‘root canal’ or ‘audit’ or ‘report card’. These are words shrouded in mystery and unnamed darkness – they are the terror of the unknown. And they’re never as bad as they seem.
My visions of the Terrible Twos had always been of a kicking and screaming child, clinging to a doorjamb or candy display. I’d see the slingshot dangling from Dennis the Menace’s back pocket, or a moustached villian dry-washing his hands after tying his teddy bear to the railroad tracks – nevermind that Ian can barely throw a ball without landing on his face.
For the most part, Ian’s Terrible behavior is what Kelly and I call his ‘No-No-Nothing’ mood:
- I want milk.
- Are you crazy? What are you thinking, giving me milk! Get out of my sight!
- You’re horrid parents! All I want is a little milk; I’m only a little boy, after all. And there you sit, taunting me with a full glass of milk and keeping it out of my reach!
And so forth.
I ask if he would like some cereal. He nods. I hand him the cereal. He runs away, screaming. I’ve started calling him Sybil.
These moods also escalate into episodes when he wants everything at once and nothing at all. He becomes completely inconsolable, throws himself on the floor, and lies there, sobbing into the carpet.
It’s actually quite funny to watch.
I think the problem is that he wants to do everything himself, but also wants to be the baby. It’s a championship bout between the Ian who climbs to the top of the jungle-gym by himself and the Ian who snuggles in our laps just before bedtime.
These two personalities can get along quite nicely, at times. When it’s time for bed, he takes me by the hand and leads me upstairs, but when I lift him into the crib he burrows his head into my chest and wraps his arms around my neck.
Ironically, I think the Terrible Twos are the beginning of what parents want for their children – independence. We want them to walk on their own and do things for themselves. We want them to tell us what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling. But not yet; it’s always too soon.
Maybe this struggle of Ian’s personalities is just a reflection of the conflict he sees within his parents.