Have I mentioned recently that I have a 2 year old? I’m sure many parents have compared life with a toddler to a roller coaster ride, and these days, I can’t help but echo that sentiment. Melodrama and overreaction are constant. He would rather watch TV than hang out with me. He ignores nearly every request I dare to utter in his direction, yet demands my full attention when he wants it. He lies, pushes me past my limits and tests every ounce of patience I own. And when he looks into my eyes and tells me he loves me…amnesia strikes and I melt into a weepy, guilt-filled puddle. It’s pretty emotionally draining and I’m often reminded of what it felt like to be an insecure teenager dating a selfish 17 year-old boy.
Ironically, I’m now in charge of making sure that my child doesn’t turn out to be that awful boyfriend. Perpetually seeking effective ways to approach misbehavior, I sometimes find myself questioning every move I make while trying desperately to provide consistent and constructive discipline.
I’m quickly starting to realize that getting through the exasperating times means savoring and not losing sight of the amazing ones. It means understanding that he is two, doing my best not to over-analyze his behavior, giving him room to release his frustration appropriately and opportunities to succeed while also allowing him to fail with grace, humility and company.
Taking a deep breath during a tantrum and instead of seeing a screaming mess, trying to look beyond the piercing squeals and finding the little boy who insists on having me all to himself at bedtime, lying on his bedroom floor as he runs his fingers through my hair and requests my rendition of “Rainbow Song” (Somewhere Over the Rainbow) over and over and over again - this has made the tough times easier.
This same little person, who intentionally threw a wooden box at my head just minutes before, became so instantly enchanted by his first look at a ballerina in a music box that he could not resist smothering the tiny dancer in kisses. He’s unbelievably wild yet perfectly gentle. He’s as extreme in his distaste for sharing with his friends as he is in his love for them. He’s getting big but he’s still so, so small. He’s suddenly autonomous and simultaneously entirely dependent upon me. His wails often end in laughter and his cries in tears of joy…and it’s all just part of the ride.
So, I think that the next time he refuses to nap and is bouncing off of the walls all afternoon, instead of grinding my teeth in annoyance, I will smile and remember that in a few hours, he will be so tired that he will let me rock him to sleep for the first time in a long, long time…and that, as soon as he’s asleep and I gently close his bedroom door, I’ll immediately miss him so much I’ll wish he’d wake back up and climb into bed with me.