Vaught is two. “Terrible” two. I have spent most of his “terrible” twos telling other parents with younger children, “Oh, please – terrible twos! Ha! Two is totally fun! Toddlerhood, in my opinion, is much more fun than the infant stage! This is great! Awesome, even! It is nonstop fun over here and don’t listen to parents who talk about those ‘terrible twos!’ They are obviously a little crazy!” Do you see all of my exclamation pointed excitement about two and being two, and two is just a big pile of AWESOME?!
Ha! Hahahahahahaha! Oh, universe. You sure do like to make me eat my words, don’t you? It’s a fun little game you play, isn’t it? While I have been busy being all smug about the greatness that is two, my child has been busy plotting. Yes, plotting, I tell you. Maybe I can blame it on the approximately 72 trillion showings of “Despicable Me” he’s watched recently. (And, yes, I am aware that I am the one pressing play. But, for a kid who likes to be outside or playing and not in front of a TV all that often, and for a mom who personally loves Gru and his little minions, I allow it.) Anyway, he particularly loves the parts where Gru is bossing his minions around and does an awesome “Listen UP!” that even Steve Carell would be proud of. It’s cute. Or it was until I realized he was taking pointers.
This whole waiting until he’s almost three to hit this stage is part of his strategy, I think. He got me all comfortable thinking I totally had this toddler thing covered while, in reality, he has been plotting all Gru-like – probably late at night with Woody and Mickey and the two Bullzeyes that share his bed. Oh, and the dinosaur. I’ve never trusted that dinosaur. Anyway, he’s gone from sweet snuggle fests and playing and toddler blissdom to testing our boundaries every chance he gets. It started off slowly. A finger pointed at us here and there, an exasperated sigh from time to time. He has always been a strong-willed child, and he has always challenged us, but in ways that haven’t driven us crazy. And now? Well, hello there, crazy! We’ve have come careening into terrible two just like some certain toddler making laps around the couch on his tricycle.
Here are some of the ways I’ve RUINED his life recently:
– I opened the crackers before I opened the juice.
– I opened the juice before I opened the crackers.
– I opened the juice but was supposed to let HIM do the straw.
– I made him do the straw.
– I let the corner of the white blanket peek out from underneath the blue blanket, which MUST go on top. And it MUST completely cover the white blanket. Please note: The blue blanket is smaller than the white blanket. This is … math I can’t even do. I have become a master of blanket origami is all I can tell you.
– I said something out of order at bedtime. It goes, “Sweet dreams. I love you. Okay.” NOT “I love you. Sweet dreams. Okay.” I mean seriously, after I’ve mastered the illusion of full blue blanket coverage I can’t always be expected to remember the script exactly, can I? The answer is yes, yes, I can. Also, I don’t even know when the “okay” became part of the script. What in the world? I need these changes in writing.
This list could go on for quite a while. I could write volumes. The point is, this kid – he is testing us. Most of the time I tell him something like, “Well, yes, I did open the refrigerator door in a way you found offensive, but, son, we must move on with our lives,” but lately, I notice myself having more days where I sound a little short and a little stressed. There have been days that when he has done his Gru “Listen UP!” speech that I’ve thought … hmmmm, that maybe sounds more like me than Steve Carell. Just maybe. Oh, and that exasperated sigh? Wow, that’s all me.
But now I do understand the conversations I used to have with my sister, who has three children, when she would tell me that yes, there will be days they will drive you nuts, there will be days you long for 30 minutes of peace, there will be days that you yell too much and feel like a bad parent, but most of the time, by the end of those days, there will be a moment that puts it all in perspective. For me, even if there have been stomped feet and clinched fists and tears, he still wants to snuggle with me on the couch before I go rock him, and that’s my moment. I know that is a luxury. When he is all grown up, he won’t want that. He won’t say, “Sweet dreams. I love you. Okay.” So even when he gets frustrated when I say it “wrong,” I try my best to remember I won’t always get to tuck him in and suddenly the feeling of, this too shall pass, thank God, becomes, oh … this too shall pass. Oh. Perspective. See?
And if it’s been a particularly challenging day when even the snuggling isn’t working? I find one of the final scenes of “Madagascar 3” works wonders for our moods. You try to spin a two-year old around the room to Katy Perry without laughing. You can’t. It’s one of those things like not being able to lick your own elbow. Physically impossible. Because some days, you just gotta ignite the light and let it shine. Just own the night, like the fourth of July. (You will have that in your head the rest of the day now. You are welcome. I recommend not fighting it. Just find a two-year old to spin with.)
Yep. He’s got me exactly where he wants me. (Photo credit: Jennifer Jones Photography.)