I don’t know what happened. She was…fine! I mean, she says “No” too much, she’s a messy eater, and she has a nasty tendency toward biting me on the neck sometimes, but Audrey was never a monster. Certainly not ever a snarling beastly thing with pointy teeth, cold eyes, and a banshee-like wail to wake the dead. But she’s like that now. And to think that after over two-and-a-half years I thought I was out of the woods. Que lastima.
The so-called Terrible Twos were upon us. But ironically, it took a little while for my wife and I to realize it. The signs in and of themselves were just the typical instances of a precocious young child struggling to adapt to this crazy work-a-day world. But all added up, the picture soon became clear. This infamous stage of toddlerhood was upon us. God help us all.
Sign Number One: Breaking? Bad.*
It began with a banana. Just your typical, innocent, loved-by-monkeys banana. I had given it to Audrey for lunch in full–peel n’ all–because that’s the way she likes them. This time, however, upon peeling the delicious fruit, it broke in two pieces. No problem, right?
It was like an air raid siren went off. In one hand she held one half of the banana. In the other hand she held the other half. Out of her mouth: Hells Bells. It was clearly time to take shelter. Instead, I tried to tell her she could still eat the entire banana. I did my best to convince her. I pleaded. I begged. You get the picture. But none of my efforts made a lick of difference. She was traumatized. And the banana would soon end up in the trash. Sad.
It doesn’t stop with bananas though. A similar occurrence took place with a popsicle that she was nursing for too long. It broke into two pieces and…yeah. Same reaction. Grapes are also a cause for concern too. I typically cut them in half for my little girl. That way the FLAVOR EXPLOSION reaches her tongue immediately. But now? A sliced grape is cause for bloodshed. That’s because it’s broken.
It doesn’t start and stop with food either. Sticks, paper, Playdough and anything else that ceases to retain its full and natural state result in this same reaction. And while irrational to us sane and well-adjusted adults, it does make a certain amount of sense when you consider the mind of a 2-year-old. No one likes broken things, after all. But some things are meant to be broken. And explaining the difference to a toddler is easier said than done.
Sign Number Two: Changing? Worse!
The first two-and-a-half years saw many horrors on the changing table, but these days the terror does not stem from mere pee puddles and pooped-on pants. No. Now my daughter is TERRIFIED of the changing table. Just lying her down on it results in wide eyes and shrill screams. And when you lift her bum to get the first diaper out and the new diaper in..?
It’s as if she’s being eaten alive.
I make light of it here, but it is truly a horrifying sight to behold. No one wants to see his child experience utter terror, after all. And no one wants to deal with a child who is still wearing diapers–despite our recent potty training attempts–resisting every attempt to change them. If she knows a change is coming, she runs. If we chase after her, she runs. And if we get her and subsequently let her go by accident? Well, you know.
Changing was never a pleasant part of child-rearing, but it was never this bad. She never feared the experience. So we’re left wondering, where is the fear coming from? What has changed? Well, my guess is that it has to do with the height of the table–not that it’s terribly tall. It’s your average height for a changing table I would guess. But it is my belief that she suddenly has a healthy fear of falling–something that she never previously had. As she’s gotten older and wiser in the ways of the world, she has realized that heights can be dangerous. And that regardless of whether her parents are there to keep her safe, there is a danger. So, like with the broken objects bit before, there is some wisdom to her behavior. And that is great. Honestly! I just wish this wisdom didn’t manifest itself in such a way that makes me want to crawl into a spider-infested hole.
(I really hate spiders.)
Sign Number Three: Parenting? Don’t Even Go There, Gringo.
The last sign isn’t as specific as the first two, and goes along the same line as all the “No”s Audrey espouses. Basically, any time my wife and I try to parent her, she fights it tooth and nail. Sometimes you can understand why, such as when we try to get her to brush her teeth, wash her hands, go potty, etc. But other times she resists us when our suggestions would dramatically improve her happiness, such as playing with toys, painting, and reading books. In other words…
She’s generally happier when we’re not interacting with her.
This is especially true when she’s already mad. The more we intervene and try to calm her down, the more furious she gets. The more we try to hold her, the more she flails, kicks, and throws her head back violently. The more we try to do things together, the less we all like each other. It took some time but we now realize that when Audrey is throwing a tantrum, it’s best to just leave her alone. The more we try to help the less it does. Not an easy-to-digest feeling for a parent.
So, yes. The Terrible Twos are finally here. How long will they stay? I can’t say. Will they get worse? I don’t know. Will I survive the ordeal? Let’s hope so. But man…there are times that I don’t think I will.
Where’s that spider hole again?
*See what I just did there? You see that?