Two is hard.
Two is not a baby anymore but not a big kid either.
Two is demanding independence, but not achieving it.
Two is wanting to do everything yourself, but being hurried along.
Two is a big boy bed, a big boy cup and big boy underpants, but not quite a big boy.
Two is only 24 - 35 months.
Two is wanting to do everything your older sibling does, the big kids at the day care do, or your Daddy does, but not being able to make your body do what your mind wants it to. Not being allowed to do everything you want to.
Two is impulsive.
Two brings tears. And loud voices. And throw-yourself-down-on-the-floor-carrying on-until-everyone-looks-at-you-and wonders-if-there-is-something-seriously-wrong-with-you tantrums.
Two brings the ability to throw objects, but the inability to distinguish which items are okay to throw and which are not. And where. Or perhaps more accurately, the inability to care which items are and are not okay to throw, and where.
Two brings indecisiveness. Apple Juice. No, Orange Juice. No, wait…apple juice...no...um......
It brings a mind of your own. One that is not always easily distracted or persuaded. One that will NOT wear that shirt with the buttons. One that will NOT take just one bite, one that MUST have that that toy that other child is playing with – right NOW.
Two brings mimicking. Parroting. Repeating everything that is heard. From “I love you” to “Watch this” to “Silly goose” to “Oh My God” to “Dammit”. And then not understanding why someone says “no” to them when they repeat what they hear.
Two brings conversations. With a little person who, you have to remember, is only 2.
Two is wanting to walk, but sometimes needing a wagon, or stroller, or push buggy car.
Two brings disaprooving looks from others. In grocery stores. And libraries. And bathrooms. And line ups. Any and all line ups.
Two is being able to use a fork and spoon, but not always wanting to do so. Or to do so in the way a fork and spoon were designed to be used. It’s sometimes wanting someone to feed you, or sometimes not wanting to eat, period. Or sometimes using the fork as anything from a slingshot to a hairbrush.
Two is being able to control your own food intake, and output, and knowing no one else has any control over that but you.
Two brings peeing on the potty. And on the floor. and on the couch. Definitely on the carpet.
Two brings the word “no”. and “NO!” and “NNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”
Two brings the introduction of the term “Inside voice” but not necessarily the acceptance of it.
Two is about ABCs and 123s and holding a crayon and drawing a circle.
Two is also about using that same crayon to colour on the floor, the wall, the door, clothing…and then learning how to clean it up.
It’s about reading books, enjoying the repetition, starting to understand simple story patterns and turning the pages yourself.
It’s also about throwing that same book, ripping the pages out, or colouring all over it.
Two is about loving bath time, but hating “wash your hair” time.
Two has been called terrible, it has been called terrific.
In my experience, 2 has been hard. Both times.
But it was also my experience that 3 was harder…
I look forward to 4…4 was good…5 too…
Then we came to 6.
6 is about independence. Real independence, that has been earned and that is deserved, but because of the world we live in, cannot always be given.
It’s about friendships. Getting choosier. Finding similarities and learning to accept differences. Questioning the acts of others. Feeling accepted and feeling left out. Feeling loyalties and feeling torn. It’s about the term “BFF” and all that can entail. It’s about wanting to have whatever your friend has, and not always caring what you already have. From toys to lunch box items to bedding.
It’s about wanting to have your own voice, state your own opinion, make your own decisions, argue your point, wanting to be “heard”, to feel like your opinions matter…but then being told you have an “attitude”.
It’s about having to eat suppers you don’t like and questioning why your parents never have to eat food they don’t like.
It’s about asking questions your parents can’t always answer.
It’s about earning trust and respect, gaining responsibility, having expectations, and hating when people say “you’re only 6”.
6 is in between “little kid” and “pre-teen”.
In between baths and showers.
It’s thinking you like Hannah Montana or I Carly, even though most of it goes over your head. It’s still liking cartoons on the Treehouse channel, but not telling your friends that.
It’s wanting your own space and time away from your younger sibling, but not getting it as often as you should.
It’s also about being able to play independently, but not always wanting to.
6 brings eye rolling, hands on your hips, hair tosses, and talking back, in a body that seems too little to be doing such things.
6 brings “But Mom!”, “No Fair!”, “But ________ gets to” sighs of frustration, and, my personal favourite, “FINE!!!”
6 is viewing your younger sibling as your partner, your assistant, your best friend. And as a baby, an annoyance, your nemesis.
And being a parent through year number 2, and year number 6?
That takes patience. And determination. And creativity. And strength. And support.
It’s about allowing the throw-yourself-down-on-the-floor-until-everyone-looks-at-you-and wonders-if-there-is-something-seriously-wrong-with-you tantrums to happen, and hoping, really hoping, that this is a phase that will pass and that yes, the child is just fine.
It’s about accepting the “attitude” and understanding why it’s happening and trying to look at life through their eyes. The expectations and rules of a big kid when it comes to stuff you want them to say and do, but still being treated like a little kid when it comes to stuff they want to say and do.
I was warned about 2, and 6. One of my most trusted allies in the parenting trenches, my sister in law, told me 2 was coming. And 3. And 6. She told me what I was in for, and I saw it with my own eyes, in her kids. I think of her often, my sister in law, as I am in the midst of the latest drama to hit my living room. Or bedroom. Or kitchen. Or vehicle.
She is or appears to be, cruising through 5. And battling through 8. Although, in her defense, her 8 year old is female, and I think we have both resigned ourselves to the fact that it doesn’t matter what age our girls are; from here on in there will be battles for the next several years.
I’m glad I have an ally. I’m glad there is someone (several people actually) who are right there with me, day in and day out, not afraid to admit their kids aren’t perfect, not afraid to complain about the hard days. People who wonder and worry about their kids and their “not my greatest moment” moments. And aren't afraid to talk about them.
Is it a behavioural issue? Or is it simply a 2 year old?
Is it a real attitude problem? Or is it simply a 6 year old who is not a cutesy preschooler anymore, but not an independent pre-teen either?
Is intervention needed or is this all age appropriate stuff that will pass, will work itself out, and shouldn’t be excessively worried about, and overanalyzed?
I am a worrier and an overanalyzer, and I know I haven't seen anything yet. I know that when I am in the throes of the teen years I will look back wistfully on 2...and 6.
For now though, this is where I'm at. There are a million great moments, and great days...but there are some days that suck. Some days are really hard.
Thank you to my 2 friends who empathized with and reassured me yesterday, and thanks to all of you who are brave enough to share your "not so great" days too.
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