Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Terrible, They Are.

The twos that is.

No one parent has the right balance to ensure that their kid doesn't turn into the angry little beast that tantrums in grocery stores or on sidewalks in front of buildings. If you are a parent who is so boastfully proud about their kid never turning into a beast, please do not comment here. This post is not meant to make me feel worse.

I'm convinced some parents just get luckier than others in the terrible two department. And honestly, for sometime I was tooting my own horn about how reasoning with my kid and offering choices for everything was working so well and he was so awesome.

Except somewhere along the journey, he turned terrible.

I almost never want to take him anywhere these days, you guys. I do still, but I dread it. Once we arrive, he almost never wants to leave. And while I am all about being flexible, little sister does need to be fed sometimes and they both still need to nap.

Just in my recent memory of things that happened in the last couple days:
- threw a full out tantrum in the grocery store by ninja-ing his way out of the shopping cart and then the car cart to only be held in a football hold through the checkout lane. The checker had to handle all of my groceries and they even had someone try to give us a cookie (reward that behavior? NO!) and someone walk the cart to our car.
- laid in front of the library door because he didn't want to get in the car.
- refused to leave the "cookie store" bakery and told me "bye bye Mommy" to leave.

When he doesn't want something, he says "bye bye" angrily and shoos it/you away like a fly. I have friends who chose not to give their kids sugar because that tended to fuel the terribleness. And friends who withheld television or technology or fill-in-the-blank. Some of that helped, and I personally witnessed some of that backfiring. Deprivation wasn't necessarily the key to good behavior. For us, I believed that if my son were "deprived" of something, it would make him that much worse to manage when he finally had his hand in the proverbial cookie jar. And to an extent, I think we're still right about that for our son. Not your son, just to be clear. All families choose their own paths. Knowing how we both work as parents and people, we didn't feel that withholding things he wanted was the answer. It was more about collective bargaining and all of us winning on the deal.

So if he wants to watch a television show at the end of the evening, he must pick up his toys. Used to work swimmingly. Now, he just declines the show.

If he wants to have dessert, he must give a good effort at dinner he gets to have a say in selecting. If a good effort was not rendered, no dessert is to be had. Doesn't seem to bother him lately. Food is wasted and treats are forgotten.

And the latest nonsense to hit the household is sister jealousy. Up until now, he's been nothing but a wonderful, gentle brother. But now? Now that she is functioning and not sleeping the entire day away and actually demands some parental attention? He's blowing steam. He knows her name and often uses it, but when it comes to being mad, he reverts to calling her "baby" as if it is demeaning in its use. "No swing baybee" (if she is using it and he wants it) as just one of the many examples. He's been a bit violent toward her as well.

While we knew the twos would possibly hit us at some point, we didn't realize just how irrational they might be. He begins screaming about something (example: leaving the children's museum) and it takes the strength of a small army to get him into his carseat. I've totally had to sit on him to get him in there and mothers all around either give me mad staredowns or pat me on the back and tell me that it's just a stage. Once he's in the carseat or when he screams his head off at home, it turns into his shoes being off or on, wanting mommy or daddy's car or being angry because he doesn't have juice. None of it makes sense. It's a big pile of nonsense that takes over his body and turns him into a raging lunatic. Some days these tantrums can go on for over an hour. {I told a fellow mom at the park about his tantrums as she witnessed a mini one in the parking lot about him wanting-to-but-not-wanting-to bring his sand toys... and this mom of three replied, "that must be hard." Great, thanks for the mom comradery}.

Knee deep in the terribleness that is the twos. When he is incredible, he is really the coolest kid ever. But when he is terrible... he defines the word at a whole new level.

Reminds me of that little poem:

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very, very good,
And when she was bad she was horrid.

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Anne said... [Reply to comment]

Its totally not funny, but it is...both Parke and I have had to strong-arm Gracie into her stroller while she screamed so loudly the whole neighborhood came out (I am not exaggerating), and then she threw up all over herself- awesome. What has worked for us (huge disclaimer that this is what works some of the time, some of the time there is no reasoning with her) is to explain in detail our expectations before we go anywhere...she gets the most upset (read: hysterical) when she wants to do something like walk and we make her ride in the stroller. Its worked better for us to tell her ahead of time she has to ride in her stroller until we get to our street, and then she can get out and walk.Then I make her repeat back to me"the rules". Like I said, this by no means avoids all tantrums but it seems to at least help! Good Luck!!

Laura Jane said... [Reply to comment]

Grace is a terrible, not so very good, awful two year old sometimes, too.

Those football grips? I'm well accustomed to them. I do nice things like take her on solo trips to the park for a couple of hours and she loves it. UNTIL I have to return us both home to feed Piper and then she loses her mind and I have to basically DRAG her butt home, kicking and screaming the whole way.

So I totally know what you mean about wanting to avoid going out in public/doing anything for fear of melt-down. We have it too.

But I feel like I can't complain too much as I've heard the terrible twos are followed by the terrible threes and the f*ck it fours. bahhaa

Sneaker Teacher said... [Reply to comment]

I am quite familiar with the "I don't want to leave the Children's Museum" meltdowns. Grace LOVES the Children's Museum and my in-laws got us a membership so when we go there is no pressure to stay a long time to get our money's worth. Luckily it's pretty close to where we live because she cries the entire way home pretty much every time we go.

Brigitte said... [Reply to comment]

I feel your pain on this one. Frankly, it sucks sometimes. Just keep pushing ahead, and slowly the bad days spread out farther and farther and the good behavior days grow closer together.

Mom in Limbo said... [Reply to comment]

I'll commiserate with you. My second child is AWFUL a lot. (And is a pro at 1-hour tantrums)

A few things: I've totally sat on my child to get her in her car seat. Or to brush her teeth, I often have to pin her down with one leg. So, you're not alone.

It IS a phase, so take heart.

And you're right. They are totally irrational. They might as well cry cause the sky is blue and they want it to be purple. I would try to talk logic into my daughter as she cried about ridiculous stuff. That just made it worse.

Deep breaths. You and your son are totally normal, and anyone who says otherwise or that "this must be so hard" is forgetting the tough times.

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

It's so hard--I think especially because meltdown tend to happen in public and you want people to see what an awesome kid you have most of the time and then when they morph into this tantrum-throwing maniac, it's just frustrating.

You're doing a great job. And B is obviously very bright, so I suspect that it won't be too long before he realizes that there are other ways of getting what he wants that are more effective than tantrums.

(Also my Grandma used to recite that poem to me. We all have moments of being very, very good, and moments of being, well, horrid.)

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

I think your consistent parenting style, not giving in or rewarding such behavior, will pay off on the log run and make this stage shorter.

They can be real assholes, these kids.

Solange, Nik, Caitlin and Oliver said... [Reply to comment]

Oh man. Ya they are so damn crazy at that age. Caity's started at 18 months so that was fun :) Ollie's is on too and it SUCKS.
Go you for the football hold in the store! I try to ignore his tantrums and sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't. Oh well. It really does get easier because pretty soon you will be able to reason with him!
But I feel ya, B. Ollie can be quite the little shit.

Kari at A Grace Full Life said... [Reply to comment]

FRIEND- the terrible twos ARE FRIGGIN AWFUL.
My oldest was a dream but had moments of crappiness.
The youngest was crappy from age 18 months to age 4.
So I get you.
Stock up on chocolate, wine and People magazine.
Watch bad Tori Spelling movies.
Do what it takes.
Because I am on the other side of it and it is AMAZING.
I promise.

By the way, LOVE the header!!!! 4

Jill said... [Reply to comment]

It is SO hard!!! But honestly, you ARE on the right track and his behavior IS showing how well he reasons.

When he chooses no dessert, or no tv instead of eating and picking up toys, he is making his own decisions and living with the consequences of it. If he doesn't seem bothered by it... ALSO ok!!! How many times as adults have we bargained with ourselves to try and muster the motivation to do something but then ultimately changed our minds? "Ugh... really need to go to the grocery store but I don't wanna. But if I go I can hit up starbucks too. Nah, on second thought not even a frappacino is enough to lure me out of the house today."

Weighing choices and making decisions is a HUGE developmental skill and he's doing it! The problem is when we as parents offer choices but only really will be happy if they pick ONE of those choices. In that case it's not truly a choice- it's a directive and a consequence DISGUISED as a choice. If you can be truly ok with letting him own the decisions then you are really on the right track. What if next time you offer the choices but with an addendum? "You can pick up your toys and then watch a show. Or, mommy can pick them up and put the toys in time out for awhile." Around here... the LAZY is strong and my kids will almost always choose loss of incentive over responsibility. But when the loss of of incentive is coupled with loss of toys... they are more likely to take on that responsibility. The key is to keep your own emotions out of it. I have seven kids ranging from teens down to a 4 month old and this age is just plain HARD. Good luck!!

Jenny said... [Reply to comment]

Hang in there, he must love you a lot... because it is likely that horridness only comes out around his parents. Boundaries are hard, aren't they? Certainly been there, wait for the newly sitting sister tipping!

Amelia said... [Reply to comment]

I once wrote a friend enraged that G had no respect to our size differences. I could throw that small child off our mountain top with very little effort. I am so much bigger than her and I would TOTALLY win if we threw down.

G did not care one bit. No sense of self preservation, awareness that she was at my mercy. Damn kid.

Sending you love and patience. It's an obnoxious road.

Brie said... [Reply to comment]

Uhm, did you see what my two year old did with his teeth to his sister? Yeah-the twos have hit our house hard. I'm embarassed to take him to playgroup because he consistently goes after the same child, pushing and taking toys. I spent most of playgroup sitting with him in timeout (cross legged around a writhing child) in the corner of the hosts house. After the fourth timeout, I announced to the host that we would be leaving. She said to me, "you know that doesn't fix your problem, right? He is getting what he wants". Here's the thing....I take my child even though I know he is probably going to behave the way he does. I'm using it as a teaching opportunity to help him get through this phase. If I was taking the easier route, I wouldn't attend group. But, c'mon..after spending most my morning on he floor wrapped around him while someone else tended to my daughter, I was exhausted. I wanted to go home..and so we did. Because I'm the parent of my child, and that was what we were going to do. I applaud you for parenting your way. These are OUR kids, and it's OUR perogative to parent the way we choose.

LookItsJessica said... [Reply to comment]

Goodness! I *think* Avery is exiting her sweet little doll-baby stage and entering the "MOMMY GO AWAY" stage too. Although, since I'm not pregnant and do not have a baby, I have a bit more patience for it. Just this morning I had to use the football hold to get Avy out of Macy's. Sigh.

I have heard its "terrible twos" and "pleasing threes" and I hope that is the case with our littles. Time outs have worked wonderfully for us. Like Benjamin, Avy doesnt care about skipping dessert because she is into her toys after dinner. We do immediate time outs for 2 minutes sitting at the bottom of the stairs for things like: not listening to mom/dad, throwing food, putting the computer in sleep-mode 40 times whenever one of us is using it (which she finds HILAR!)

It's not a perfect system but she does redirect herself maybe 50% of the time when we warn her that she will sit in 'time out' if she continues making the wrong choices.

I love the other comments, they are so spot-on. Kiddos love to be perfect for their grandparents while unleashing hell on mommy as soon as grandma leaves. And I have also debated whether getting groceries and a frappacino is worth the possibility of a Kroger blow-out!

Tiffany said... [Reply to comment]

um, yes. raging lunatic is a perfect description. it just kind of hit all of a sudden. i'm not really sure what to do. i'm trying my best to keep it together, but the other day after i had gotten her to sleep, i cried about how my child "hated me." this stage is hard.

bohomamasoul said... [Reply to comment]

See, the twos haven't been that awful here. I have an 8-year old, a 3-year old (he'll be 4 in December), and a brand new baby born on April 27th. My oldest was perfect in every way, as well as very advanced. Then I had Ezra. He was an angel at two and still nursed like a newborn so he was easily corralled and swayed with "nurtches" (his word for mama milk). But he weaned when I was about 20 weeks pregnant with our fourth and he was just turning 3. Since then? He's a hellion. Like, certifiably nuts. Even with my first, three was worse than two but it was a breeze compared to my second. I can only hope our fourth will be like his oldest brother. I REALLY HOPE that three isn't worse for you like it seems to be for me and others. We call it having a "threenager".

*Yes, I'm missing a child in there. Our third was a daughter that was stillborn at 20 weeks. I just always say Rigby is our fourth because our daughter was real, she lived, only the expanse of her life occurred inside my body. So I say we have four. I know you understand.