The only thing worse than raising a toddler during the “terrible twos” stage is raising two toddlers during the “terrible twos” stage. And I actually thought I got a pass with Eva because it didn’t actually hit with her until she was 3, a stage I called “threenager”, it was just awful. Let me tell you what my little darling twins are up in this stage of life.
As I type this after 8P, I’m watching the twins on the video monitor run around their room pulling sheets and pillows off of their beds. They like to remove the pillow cases and fill them with their blankets and lovies (Pierre has a stuffed bear he sleeps with and Olivia a baby doll). Sometimes they stuff their blankets under their mattress, which of course, involves them MOVING the mattress and lifting it. I honestly don’t know how they haven’t been seriously injured by now. Thank God they’ve never hurt themselves too badly. They move the beds around, they jump from one bed to the other, they crawl under the bed, they physically try to climb the walls.
On the day the photo above was taken they had removed one of the mattresses (seen in the photo upside down and turned 90 degrees), they ripped the plastic liner on the other mattress and the Star Wars pillow on the left of the photo had been torn open and the fuzz was everywhere. You couldn’t see it in the photo because it was taken with the video monitor and the infrared didn’t catch it. Oh man, was I fuming. Mostly what runs through my head in these moments is “WHY?” What possesses them to do these things? What makes them think it’s a good idea? It’s so frustrating.
You guys, this is just two days worth of “bad” stuff they do when I’m not in the room. When I am around they talk back, they say “NO“, they scream at me when they don’t get their way, they do not listen when I call for them or ask them to complete a simple task like put a toy away because it’s bedtime or put your trash in the garbage can. They throw tantrums over not getting the cup they wanted at dinner time or if a sibling looks at them funny. This is basic stuff, people. Yet they have to resist my every call and request. Here’s where my theory comes in.
I have a different perspective when I’m dealing with Esme. She’s about to turn one in a few weeks and is really starting to show her personality. If she throws a tantrum because a sibling took a toy it’s cute because she can finally stand up for herself. If she squeals back at me after I give her a firm NO it’s adorable. If she wants to put her dinner on her head it’s hilarious, better get the camera ready. When she hits me or one of her sisters it’s okay because she’s still learning and we take it as an opportunity to teach her how to be gentle. Are you guys catching on to the double standard? Now, I know that developmentally an almost one year old and a two and a half year old are miles apart. But here’s what I take from it. For a while we think everything they do is adorable and we enjoy watching them grow into their own little person who has individual likes and dislikes. But when they start to really branch out and test their limits we bring down the hammer. They go from having what seems like the whole world to explore to having rules to follow.
It’s kind of understandable that they act out and want to show a little resistance and individuality. And don’t get me wrong. I am not telling you to let your toddler do whatever they want or to let them walk all over you. NO. You stand firm and show your child that you are in control. But in a gentle manner that says, “Hey, it’s okay. We’re trying to navigate this stage of life together”. A new stage in their life means a new stage in ours as parents, too. Because it isn’t just about us as parents. It’s not just our lives that are being interrupted, it’s their life too. Just because it’s a small life doesn’t mean it’s insignificant.
So I want to challenge anyone who needs to take a deep breath and start over with their little darling in the “terrible twos” or “threenager” stage. Try and look at the situation from their point of view. Have an open dialogue with your child when you feel you’re losing your patience. Mutual respect goes a long way even with a small child. Look, I’m not perfect and I lose my patience too many times a day to count. But I recognize that there’s a double standard in my own home and there is something I can do about that. I believe God can reveal things that we need to work on and maybe this is His way of showing me where I fall short. And that’s okay because recognizing that there’s something I need to work on will draw me closer to God as I ask Him to lead the way. At the end of the day I want my kids to see His light and joy through me.