Friday, September 14, 2012

The Terrible Twos Are Almost Over! That Means Relief Is in Sight, Right?

I know, I know. Wishful thinking. In truth, we probably haven’t hit the worst of it. But honestly, with my daughter, Lucy, that’s kind of hard to imagine. And really, I blame Ethan, my 7-year-old. It’s totally his fault that he was such an easy-going toddler and had us duped, thinking that we had this parenting thing down. But then Lucy came along. And really, right from the beginning it was like she set out to blow that premise completely out of the water. And, as my husband and I are both first-borns, whose temperaments lean (at least as children) more on my son’s side of things--we just don’t know what to do with our independent, strong-willed, stubborn, downright FIERCE little girl.

Don’t get me wrong, if I were listing characteristics I would want my daughter to have in life, those would be at the top of the list. What an amazing woman she will be! But, for now, how do we teach her to use her powers for good instead of evil?

Lucy can throw a fit like nobody’s business. And they last. And there’s no getting her out of them. Just as she got her frustrated self into that fit, she has to get herself out. There’s no trick to it. You just have to ride it out. Sometimes nearby, talking calmly (though that can just makes things worse). She is bossy (to us, and pretty much anyone else), she doesn’t share, and she rarely does what she is told. Between “Use your words” and “If you don’t do what you’re told, you don’t get what you want.” It’s as if I say nothing else some days. Lucy can go to Time Out more times in one day than Ethan did his entire toddler-hood (and Time Out is her crib, because come on, this kid is not going to sit in the corner just because I said so. No, we need a place she can’t get out of—yet).

She is getting better. Yesterday, we were in the drive through at Chick-Fil-A and she was talking about playing on the playground. I thought she meant she wanted to play now and I was telling her that we were just going to take the food home. What she really meant was that next time we came, she wanted to play. But, instead of going into a total meltdown, when it was clear I wasn’t getting it she said, very determined, “Mommy! Look at my mouth!” And so I did. And she repeated, and I got it that time. Meltdown avoided. (Plus, it was totally hilarious and so we got a good laugh out of it at the same time.)

And luckily, like most toddlers, she saves her “best” for us. She’s in daycare all week and, while she isn’t without her moments, most reports from there are good. And she’s never been a problem for a grandparent or babysitter. So people tell me “it’s because she loves you so much that she is comfortable losing control with you.” Clearly they’ve not met my little control freak. But, that does make me feel a little better, some days.

Sometimes I envy her. Wouldn’t it be nice to have such unwavering determination about life? And passion. And energy. (Sheesh, the energy. Someone told me once that boys run on energy and you can wear them out, but girls run on emotion, and they are never lacking in it. That is proven true every day in our house.) And especially not caring what anyone else thinks? So I think about those things when I’m counting to 10 because she’s making me crazy. And I pray, and I fill up that tank of patience as much as I can, because you never know when you’re going to need it.

So please, tell me I’m not crazy, and she’s not the only one. What are your best tricks for willful kids?

Cris Waters is a Mom of two.

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