For those of you who have never experienced the joy in life that is living with a 2-year-old, I’m here to break some news to you gently.
People refer to the “Terrible Twos”. What they really SHOULD be referring to is the “Incredibly Opinionated About Anything And Everything Twos”. Yes, I know that doesn’t really fit on a t-shirt, or as part of a candidate’s stump speech.
But seriously, either Nugget is the best behaved child in the history of the world, or the age of two isn’t really all that bad. What it is, instead, is frustrations being heaped on top of each other, because she’s definitely showing her opinions, and they don’t often make a lot of sense.
Take, for example, an activity that Mama or I are going to do. Most of the time, us doing such things is just fine, and doesn’t meet a word of protest. Every once in a while, Nugget decides that she needs to loudly proclaim how we should not be doing whatever it is we’re in the middle of. Even when that something is eating. Or using the restroom. Or trying to sleep.
So we calmly tell her that she doesn’t get to control what other people do. I’m sure that some point of Nugget’s brain is confused by this, as we’re often telling her what she should and should not do. I’m also fairly certain that she hasn’t quite figured out the household rankings of who gets to tell who what. So she tries, but she will generally relent when it’s pointed out that she doesn’t control us in that way (anyone who has a child knows that said child controls their parents in subtle ways, but that’s neither here nor there). There are also plenty of instances where she decides that picking up is the last thing she wants to do, possibly because she’s concerned that her toys have disappeared forever when they’re put away. There are also times where she dances the exact opposite side of that coin, and decides that she wants to put everything away, even when she’s still supposed to be using it. The most frequent time for Nugget to do that last one is when she’s out at a class. Clearly she knows the importance of impressing people who aren’t family.
I say that it generally isn’t too terrible. Yes, there are frustrating moments, but those frustrations usually abate pretty quickly. However, this past weekend really made it clear why some people constantly talk about the “Terrible Twos”. We were planning on going out for dinner, because tacos sounded pretty good to us, and we knew that Nugget would eat heartily from seasoned meat and rice. Now, this was the first time of the day that we, as a family, were preparing to leave the house, and, because Nugget has recently been finding a new love of running around without clothes, she was still wearing just pants and her diaper, no shirt as of yet.
So, clearly, before we can get tacos, we need Nugget to put on a shirt, right? No problem. It’ll take mere moments, because she likes running around with just a diaper, and she also loves wearing shirts and being told how awesome said shirts are.
Yeah… we clearly forgot that she was going to have opinions. Loudly. For over an hour. Try as we might, we just could not get her into a shirt. We tried to reason with her. We tried to muscle a shirt on, but stopped because we didn’t want her to actually get hurt. We tried to give her a selection of all of her shirts to choose from. We told her that not wearing a shirt meant she wouldn’t get tacos. Through it all, Nugget was adamant, and was not relenting in her stance regarding getting a shirt put on. Finally, it was determined that Mama would go out the door to get food alone, and that Nugget and I would stay at home. This is a pretty big step, because Nugget knows that weekends are when she gets to spend a lot of time with her mother, and any time away is a pretty big, and tear-inducing, deal.
This is where the final tactic came into play, and one that I’m actually still somewhat surprised worked. Upon seeing her mother about to walk out the door, Nugget fell to the floor in tears, crying so hard she was gasping. And yet, we knew we had to remain strong. Instead of letting her get comfort from Mama at that point, I asked again if she was willing to wear a shirt. Sobbing, she nodded her head, let us put a shirt on her, and then took her out to the car. The taco excursion was back on.
Now, to be clear, had she not relented, it would have been a miserable time for me, and for Nugget, as we stayed home while Mama went out to get dinner. This was not an empty threat, but instead a situation where I wanted her to actually see and process the consequences of her decision. And it’s also not something I really want to fall back on too often, because I don’t really like the idea of traumatizing my child.
She clearly doesn’t feel the same back towards us. After all, within mere minutes of being in the car, she loudly proclaimed from her car seat that she was “so happy”, because she was going to get tacos.
Glad you’re happy, sweetheart. Now keep your shirt on, please.