June 19, 2010

The Terrible & Terrific Two's

So my darling daughter is just now 22 months old and I have to say she is wearing me out.  We are clearly into the terrible, tumultuous two's and I'm having a hard time finding the right balance of disciplining and educating her.  She has been well...the perfect child til now.  And when I say perfect..I really mean perfect.  Since she was a little baby, she has adapted to whatever and whenever.  I have been able to take her anywhere, for hours, and she always just rolls with it.  For example: I took her to "town" (this is what you say when you live in po'dunk and live 20 miles from the nearest one stop light town)the other day, before she had even had breakfast (this is what you do when it's going to be 105° by mid day).  She rode the entire way to town with a 1/2 asleep stare and barely ate her breakfast (micky d's), stayed happy and tolerant for the next 4 hours while Mom and I shopped in a little boutique.  She found a BFF in the boutique sales lady and an hour later was behind the counter with "Carla" and helping to check me and mom out.  She ran errands with us for the next 2 hours without protest.  So I say all this to say, I have rarely had to discipline her or even really be put out with her for unruly behavior.

We've entered a new day.  While she is still rolling with it when we venture out or get out of our routine, what is changing is attitude.  And those of you who think a 2 year can't cop an attitude...uh...I'll be capturing this on film to prove just how it works.  First, you are shell shocked when the attitude surfaces.  You think, 'that wasn't...attitude was it?' You reason that she's just a baby...she can't possible KNOW how to communicate like that?! Trust me...they know and the quicker you can realize it, the better you will fare in the upcoming conflict.

Last week, "no", entered our lives.  It was used in the right context, it was used with an attitude.  It was not pretty.  It's become a favorite word.  The fit throwing is also well into it's 3rd or 4th week.  The intolerance of simple every day occurences is growing by the day.  The mere mention of a nap, bedtime, dinner, or coming inside results in epic protest, followed usually by falling down and now, in the last 3 days, swearing.  Yes...I said swearing....at least for a toddler it's swearing.  ONE TIME she heard me say, dang it and then ONE TIME she heard me say crap.  These are used on a regular basis when she is fed up, angry, tired, or occasionally when Swiper steals Dora's toys or things that she needs to make it to the big volcano.  I'm trying to ignore those words because in her 22 months..she just KNOWS they aren't quite okay and she wants to see my reaction every single time she uses them.

I never thought this would be a problem for me.  I've never had trouble disciplining the kids I've cared for.  I've never had a hard time mentally disciplining kids I see in the supermarket who act this way.  But I have to be honest..it's hard.  It's hard not to just YELL (I'm a yeller, unfortunately...ask Neiman) and tell her to stop.  I've lost my cool a few times with her and yelled and the look on her face, truly hurt me.  It's a look of confusion and...well...maybe fear.  I do NOT want to scare her...ever!  I want to teach her.  I once heard Maya Angelou, on her XM radio show, tell a story about disciplining her son when he was young.  He did something and she spanked him immediately, almost without thought, and he said something to her that really made her stop and think.  I can't remember exactly what he said, but it was something along the lines of "next time you can just show me what I'm supposed to do." This made her rethink her whole discipline regime.  She realized that much of the things he would get a quick paddling for were things he had never done and had never been taught NOT to do them.  This is where I feel like I am and thus the previous statement about finding a balance between disciplining and educating.  I want L to know things are wrong and begin a dialogue about why they are wrong.  I want to be gentle and never induce fear.  I want to teach her respect and awe.  Respect for discipline and awe of the one disciplining.  

But let me end on a positive.  The two's may be upon us and it may get crazy before it's all over but the bottom line is, I have a beautiful, well behaved (in public) girl that is just terrific...terrible two's and all.  I'm sure there will be many more frustrating days and many more questions asking, 'am i doing this right?' I will get there...by the grace of God, i'll get there and I'll love every minute of it. Nighty night..

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