A Letter To Myself...Re: The Terrible Twos

Jack is three next Wednesday. We have just seven days left in the minefield that has been terrible two. I was overjoyed about this fact until I read this post on threenagers by Just a Normal Mummy and then I died a little bit inside.

Two has been a tricky year, full of trials, tribulations and tantrums. But it has also been a massive learning curve for me and one that has definitely enhanced my limited parenting skillz. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I sometimes wish that I could go back to this time last year and give myself some advice on how to handle the upcoming year and the perils of the terrible twos. If I could, I'd say something like this:

Dear Laura,

Jack is two next next week. It's time to brace yourself. Hard. I know you've noticed a few warning signs already - a hint of resistance there, an angry snarl there - but believe me, you ain't seen nothing yet. This is the end of life as you know it and over the course of the next year your sweet, smiley, little cherub will transform into an angry gargoyle of a boy before your eyes. He will systematically rebel against all of the things he currently loves and accepts - including (but not limited to) meals, baths, sleep, routine and you. The two of you will come to blows and there will be many, many tears (mostly yours) but there are some things you can do to make the transgression from feral toddler to upstanding infant as painless as possible.

Alllllll of the smiles to alllllll of the horrid.

Firstly, you need to start giving less of a shit about what other people think. Over the next year you will invest time and money on days out where Jack will behave like a total ape. There'll be hitting, screaming, flailing, running away, ignoring simple instructions, making unreasonable demands and throwing-himself-on-the-floor-and-headbutting-the-tarmac-in-fury tantrums from Hell. You will use your best Supernanny voice to try and regain control. You will fail. And you will end up dragging him to the car and hissing things like 'we are NEVER coming here again' through gritted teeth as you wrestle him into his car seat and leave four hours earlier than you'd planned. Then you'll both cry the whole way home. Why? Because you got flustered thinking that other parents were looking at you and thinking yours was the worst behaved child there. And, to be honest, they probably were. But they weren't judging you. They don't really care that much. If anything, they're probably glad that, on this occasion, it was someone else's child rather than theirs. Stop being so sensitive, understand that he's pushing boundaries and never let a five minute tantrum ruin a good day out. Silly girl.

Don't take his rage and apparent detachment from you too personally. I know it hurts your heart when he darts off into soft play shouting things like 'No mummy you sit down, you go away' rather than wanting you to play with him. I know that when he gets mortally offended by you daring to touch/push the shopping trolley he's sat in it can feel like he simply can't bear to be near you (BTW, when he does this stop trying to placate him by moving the trolley with you torso or elbows...it looks fucking odd). But honestly, he doesn't hate you. He's just desperate for independence and well, you kind of cramp his style. But it'll always be you he runs to for cuddles when he's poorly or sad. Remember that.

Don't worry too much about milestones. Over the next year people will irritate you a LOT with questions about potty training and cot-to-bed-transitions. You will feel pressured and you'll rush into things sooner than you should. This is a catastrophic mistake. Especially the bed thing. He's just not ready. He likes his cot which is why he's made no attempt to jump the bars yet. If you push this he will rebel and it'll be goodbye full nights of uninterrupted sleep and hello painful sleep training exercises. Trust your own judgement and believe that you know him best. He'll get there in his own time.

Pick your battles and be consistent with your rules and consequences. If something is deemed punishable once then it has to be punishable again. Yes it's repetitive and tiring and will interrupt you when you're watching Jezza doing housework but how else is he going to learn the boundaries of what's acceptable? Don't get uptight and bollock him for EVERYTHING though. He's a little boy and he's learning. Be patient and let the little things go. That way, when you do really need to discipline him about something important he'll take you seriously rather than laughing in your face, waggling his tongue at you and legging it.

Most importantly, enjoy him. I know that on the days where he's kicked your shins, terrorized the cat, spat his lunch all over the floor, thrown your iPhone at a wall and growled at alarmed pensioners in Tesco it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But despite the tough bits, two is a really exciting year. It's the year when he'll begin to talk to you in meaningful sentences about the things that matter to him and when he'll learn numbers, letters and nursery rhymes. He'll sing along to All About That Bass (a really crap but very catchy song that hasn't been released yet) and ask you 'what you doing babes?' and you'll laugh. These will be the bits you'll remember when your old and decrepit, not the tantrums. So enjoy them and remind yourself every day that you are blessed to have such a brilliant little boy.

Good luck. You'll need it, pal.

Laura (from the future)

If you had a time machine, what advice would you give yourself about parenting with the benefit of hindsight?

3 comments:

  1. Haha I love this post! I completely agree with what you said, don't listen to others..or other peoples opinions. Every parent & child is different.
    Good luck with the terrible two's, i'm dreading it myself too!
    Sarah xx
    whimsicalmumblings.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Thank you :)

      We are nearly out of the terrible twos but I've heard three is no picnic either! Good luck with it xx

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