I walked into the house and nearly tripped over a couple of oranges. Normally a person in my shoes would wonder where these oranges came from. But not me. To me, this and any other range of things like Lego sets, cutlery, clothes, bed linens, etc. are perfectly normal, strewn about the house, since my son entered the glorious terrible twos.
Age two doesn’t have a reputation for no reason. This is a fearful time for us parents when our innocent-looking babies turn into screaming and stomping dictators. While they are learning to assert their independence and opinions, we are coming to terms with them. In my case, while my toddler might be picking up new skills every day, I like to think that I’m also learning some important life lessons.
Here are the top eight lessons I’ve learnt navigating the terrible twos:
1. It’s important to pick your battles
Let me give you an example. It was that time during the day when both mommy and son needed to go out and get some fresh air. Carefully navigating another meltdown, I asked him, “Which pair of socks do you want to wear today?” Because as we know by now, you must give them some choices, so they feel more in control of their lives and yada yada. He proceeded to pick up one blue and one red sock, so it looked like we were celebrating the fourth of July in November, and I let him.
2. No one likes to be trained
Potty training is more about training parents to accept potty everywhere except the potty seat.
My toddler can go to great lengths to avoid potty training: holding it in for hours, standing on the potty seat so he wouldn’t have to sit on it and running away from me when I sense that he has to go. It is such a task to get him to sit on a potty seat, but he has no trouble finding the exact spot he peed on a few hours ago and empty his bladder there.
3. Balanced meals are overrated
One minute they’re eating french toast with ketchup, and the other they’re eating salt straight out of the jar. The best is when he’ll ditch the carefully balanced meal I’ve prepared for a fistful of peanuts, especially the ones on the floor.
4. Getting dressed together is fun
My boy loves helping me get dressed for work, picking earrings, handing me my eyeliner, and lipstick. Occasionally he’ll also poke himself while trying to put some on his eyes, dab his entire mouth with lipstick so he looks like a clown face and insists on kissing me senseless so he can see lipstick stains all over my face.
5. It’s perfectly normal to not like everyone or anyone
Social events and gatherings are never the same as my son hisses at, hits, claws at every unsuspecting person who says hi to him. And they look at me like I’m responsible for this behavior in some way.
6. Never let your guard down
Basically, it is best to prevent tantrums than try to engage with the tantrum thrower. Most tantrums as we know are a result of hunger and exhaustion. But even if your child is well-fed and rested, you cannot let your guard down. It’ll strike when you’re least expecting it. You have to be prepared at ALL times. What works for me is to try to recognize that look. If you have a toddler, you know what I’m talking about: the one that’s more recognizable than the White Walkers’ horn blast, and deadlier than ice blades. That look combined with their change in tone of voice is a hint for me to quickly distract the little one, to tend to him, or just take a deep breath and prepare myself for the oncoming calamity.
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7. Persistence is key
Nobody knows persistence like a toddler who wants candy or screen time. They know that if you persistently whine, scream and ask for something, chances are that the parent will break down eventually.
8. You are never in control
As you interact with reasonable adults most of the time, you forget how little control you have on other people or outcomes. Toddlers remind you of that. They are their own little people, and their minds once made up cannot be changed. You learn to let things be, and let go of anything beyond your control including their changing preferences and mood swings, and deal with them the best way you can.
[Read Related: 3 Things Brown Moms Were Totally Right About]
On the other hand, terrible twos have also taught me to appreciate inane things like bulldozers on the road, and that sometimes you should stop and smell the roses (literally!). That something as simple as running down a slope can be exhilarating, and that you have to go that extra mile to get what you want, even if it’s just to see a hen and its tiny chicks.
How has your experience been with terrible twos?