I knew about terrible twos. I was prepared for terrible twos. Meghan and I read books, blogs and articles all designed to get you through the terrible twos. And you know what, we rocked our first round of terrible twos. We mastered the skills of;
The strong assertive voice
The lean in close whisper
The 1-2-3 count
The time out chair
And we never, ever, ever gave in to a temper tantrum.
I am not here to brag but we conquered Simeon’s terrible twos. Then came three. We sharped our skills, pulled up our socks and really worked on teaching appropriate behavior.And again our hard work really seemed to pay off. Simeon’s behavior 9.9/10 was exemplary.
So I walked smugly by the struggling parent in a grocery store with a child raging for a treat.
I smirked at the park when I saw a parent demanding their child come down the slide to go home for lunch only to be ignored.
I quietly basked in our obvious super parent skills when I watched a parent pick up their child kicking and screaming because they refused to listen.
We worked hard so we wouldn’t have to deal with those kind of behaviors, and it had paid off. Simeon was a great listener who never went into a full blown temper tantrum. As three came to a close and our toddler was transformed into a four year old preschooler I was ready to do a victory lap.
We did! Mission Accomplished!
It was now time to settle in to the sweet spot. That golden time between the toddler years and the teen years. The time where you have a kid that sleeps through the night, can wipe their own bum and doesn’t think you are the dumbest person on the entire planet.
The problem is, this is not what happened. Things didn’t continue to get easier they got worse. Simeon whom I
bragged about said was tempter tantrum free starting having rages when he didn’t get what he wanted. He would cry, yell, and stomp around if I dared tell him ‘no’ when he wanted ‘yes’. He had time outs, he lost toys, we had talks about behavior but nothing seemed to slow this new behavior.
I’ve stopped smirking, walking around smugly, and I have relinquished my ‘super parent’ badge.
No one told me that four could also be terrible. But I’m learning that terrible really doesn’t stop at two. I would dare say there is a streak of ‘terrible’ that runs through every age. I am discovering that it is even in me at age 30.
Sometimes I wonder if we don’t allow kids to be people. Upon reflection a lot of what I was trying to do was like programming a robot, or training an animal. Behaviors I like were programmed in via rewards and praise. While behaviors I didn’t like were removed via corrections.
Where was the room for having a poor nights sleep? Or just a day of feeling grumpy? I know I have had some days where for no reason I can point to I am cranky, and a little mean and kind of short tempered. When that happens I try to put on my smile and power through the day. Or I find things to do away from other people.
In my rush to adjust his behavior I didn’t give Simeon the same space to be a human being. Maybe we can get so busy listening to experts, and competing with other parents that we treat our kids as collections of impulses to manage instead of people with just as many quirks and oddities as their parents.
What do you think?