I am frequently asked how old Pepper is. He is quite tall for his age, so people are surprised when I tell them he's almost 3. And then when they hear, they'll groan and make some remark about the terrible twos. I have some thoughts on terrible twos.
My sweet Pepper boy lives up to the nickname (Pepper) that his Grammy and Poppa gave him. He is a feisty, little pepper man. His twos have been significantly more terrible than Snapper's twos were. But...
I love age two!
Pepper is into everything, yes. When I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING.
Pepper (the spice...dumped all over the kitchen)
Chapstick (I think he has eaten every chapstick owned by every female in this house)
Poopy diapers (Ewww!)
and....you guessed it: Sharpies!
Am I angry or frustrated by this propensity for mischief? Not really. I don't like that he ignores me and continues to attract Sharpies like a magnet. I don't like the time I've wasted removing Sharpie art from clothing, furniture, walls, carpet, and skin. Candle wax and Vaseline are pretty rough, too. But, I choose to take a different perspective on the whole thing. Pepper is a little boy who is curious about how everything feels, how it works, and what sort of impact a substance will make on its environment. He is creative, innovative, and determined. He is not trying to be naughty. He is just a little guy who is soaking up the world in a more sensory manner than did his older sister.
Don't get me wrong--our house is not without boundaries. When Pepper makes a mess, he is required to help me clean it up. When he gets into something he should not get into, he is disciplined appropriately. We have fairly firm standards, which I know are very healthy for the kids. At the same time, I really try not to overreact to mischief that comes from a 2-year-old. When I do react badly, I have observed that Pepper seems to enjoy the reaction. Oops! Don't want to feed that monster! I simply try to take it in stride, with my camera stashed behind my back where he can't see it!
Another aspect of two that gets me at times is the whole screaming and tantrum act. For a few months Pepper spent much of his day in fit mode, and used screaming as his primary form of communication. This is not a welcome behavior in our home! The various forms of discipline I tried accomplished nothing. And then we discovered the magic of the timeout. While timeouts did nothing for Snapper (who used timeouts as a chance to escape into a little, happy, dream world), they are very useful for Pepper. It's like the timeout spot gives him what he needs to gain control of himself, and to practice using his words to communicate. He still screams occassionally, but we've made great progress. I look at screaming and tantrums as the natural, immature attempt of a little person to deal with emotions that are too big for his body. He's not usually trying to be a pill. It is my job as Mommy to help him learn how to appropriately express himself.
Overall, though not without some major challenges, Age Two is wonderful. I love the budding independence, the new sense of humor, the rapidly improving ability to communicate, the increasing understanding of the world, the intense curiousity, the funny things they say, and the plain ol' cuteness that are all part of being two.
If there's one new thing I've learned through Pepper's time in the twos, it is not to label the twos as terrible. While I wouldn't necessarily call it the terrific twos, labeling age two as terrible can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I encourage you other moms of toddlers to deal with the challenges as they come, remembering that this too shall pass. And then enjoy the unique and exciting growth that is part of this wonderful age. Don't forget how fleeting time is. You blink and it's gone.