Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"The Testing Twos"

I was talking to my buddy this morning, complaining that I absolutely loathe the phrase "terrible twos." What does it even mean? Does it mean that when your kid hits a certain age, her behavior is terrible? Her personality is terrible? Her attitude is terrible?

Who decided it was acceptable to talk about our children this way?

My girl is twenty months old. Last night, she had a meltdown that made her turn purple. She screamed and sobbed and kicked, and I felt so sad for her the whole time. I tried to minimize it, I tried to soothe her, to calm her down. Eventually, nursing worked (of course, the look she gave me when I first offered the breast was pretty harsh!), but only after a solid twenty minutes of her deciding that I was single-handedly trying to ruin all the fun.

So her little meltdowns, which are more and more common these days, got me thinking about how everyone warns about "the terrible twos," while they shake their heads and give a "you'll learn" look. And while these storm-warners are right, that at a certain developmental point - nearing the second birthday for most children - a child's desire to test limits intensifies, I think of it more as the "Testing Twos" than the terrible sort.

My baby girl is still the sweet, hilarious person she's always been. But sometimes she gets pissed.

Like when we won't let her into the silverware drawer! We are so selfish.

Like when we won't let her climb up a steep set of stairs! How do we even live with ourselves.

Like when we think it's not a good idea to get into the dog food or open the back door! We ruin everything.

Ruby wants to do what she wants to do at the precise moment she decides she wants to do it. I know this because I feel the same way, and if it were socially appropriate for me to arch my back and throw myself, screaming, onto the ground when someone steals my parking spot or gives me attitude, you can bet I would do it. But I don't, largely because I'm an adult who has figured out not just social codes of behavior, but the more elemental stuff - like what is and isn't safe to do. Ruby is just getting to these issues. We can't expect her to know which behaviors endanger her, and we shouldn't say she's "terrible" because she doesn't know. She's just testing the boundaries, and it's our job to guide her gently, not castigate her for acting, gasp!, her age.

1 comment:

Allyson said...

i love ruby. so much.