Well, he’s still two. And he’s still, on occasion–though I hate saying this word as it relates to my son–terrible. But it’s true. Twice, I’ve thought about sending him to live amongst a herd of pigs. But I love him too much to do that. Even when he’s being “two” and somewhat “terrible.”
But he’s not terrible. Even when he is terrible. He’s not terrible. He’s two. And when you’re two-years-old with the amazing ability to go from gut-wrenching laughter to an all-out screaming cry-fit in .12 seconds, learning how to manage those sensitive emotions would take time. Learning “limits” and “boundaries” and “how to interact with adults” is still difficult for me sometimes, so I can’t imagine what it must be like for Elias.
So one thing that Jessica and I have decided is that, while we navigate the sometimes troubled waters of Elias’s second year and help him to develop (hopefully!) good people skills (and the ability to share!), we are going to resist defining “two” as “terrible.”
Because, for every terrible moment, Elias has 10 wonderful moments: Moments full of laughter and energy. Moments when he’s curious and smart and funny. Moments when he’s being a tease or being creative or desiring to learn something new. Moments when he’s joyful and shy and passionate and sweet and lovable. And so many more…
And we don’t want to miss those moments. We don’t want to become so focused on the “terrible” moments that we forget to celebrate the moments when he’s “as good as gold.”
So I wonder: Why in the world do we identify this beautiful (yes, sometimes stressful-get-on-my-last-nerve-makes-me-want-to-drink) stage by the negative events?
Of course, we didn’t do that. Our parents did. Or maybe it was our parents’ parents. Or was it the Puritans? Or perhaps it’s somehow prehistoric or biblical or some strange combo of the two (biblically prehistoric?!) Even though the person or people who coined the phrase “terrible twos” or “threes” or “tweens” had (have) a point, I think sometimes focusing on the negative aspect of this stage keeps us from enjoying the truly terrific tremendous thrilling transformable totally touching “two” moments that occur.
So… though Jessica and I are still learning how to handle Elias’s crazier moments, one thing we have started doing is making a really big deal about his non-crazy moments–the simple when ones. When he brushes his teeth without a fuss–we get excited. When he says “tank uuu” or “peaze” without being prompted–we clap. When he’s excited about a book or a show or an accomplishment, we do our best to be excited with him.
Because thoroughly enjoying the good “two” moments–both big and small ones!–fills us up and gives us the strength to handle the not-so-enjoyable “two” moments with a little more patience, compassion, and wisdom.
And sure, the “terrible” moments still happen (last night!) but remembering there’s a “peaze” moment right around the corner (or after a nap) helps. At least, it helps a little…