My grandson, Little O, turned 2 ½ on Valentine’s Day. He is smack in the middle of what is supposed to be the terrible twos. From my lofty perch on the grandmother throne, I find all of the manifestations of this age to be hilarious and very cute.
I recently unearthed my older sons’ 30-year-old little kid table and chair for him to use. He quickly discovered that he could carry the chair to the counter to help me make his lunch. That was fun – we spread the peanut butter and jam onto the bread together. Then he decided he wanted to play with the clementines on the counter. He stacked them, threw them, took a wooden spoon and herded them here and there. We made cookies on Super Bowl Sunday, with the little chair bringing him up to counter height. But suppose I want to sit down? OH NO – there will be none of that. Counter time lasts as long as my little prince rules it will.
I can usually lure Little O away from the counter with promises of “show” – his TV shows. He’s evolved from the Baby First Channel to Sprout and now he’s into Curious George. It starts with a great theme song by Dr. John the Night Tripper! I won’t say it’s all downhill from there, because at least Curious George isn’t whiny and depressed like Zou the Zebra or Caillou, last year’s favorites. It doesn’t matter – I’m not watching for entertainment. I’m watching for the free snuggles from a contented little guy who is sucking his thumb and stroking his blankie next to me!
File footage from last summer. Photo by R.Mezzy
When it is naptime, another challenge begins. I used to just carry him upstairs in my arms and that was that. Now that he is a big strapping toddler, one who has mastered the art of the Melting Boy who slithers right out of my arms, there is no more carrying. Now I have to be crafty. I invite my little prince to help me find…Uncle Matt! Is he upstairs? Let’s find out! Or maybe we can look for Little O’s toy kitty! Or his airplane! Uncle Matt is a much better lure, and often he IS upstairs, which is great because then he can do the heavy lifting to get our boy in the crib. Some days Little O settles right down and naps and some days he does not, but at least he tries.
He often wakes up a little grumpy. That’s when the Terrible Twoness really comes out in full force. “Do you want to go downstairs with me?” “NO!” “Do you want to sit on my lap?” “NOOOOOO!” “Do you want to say hi to the potty?” “NOOOOOOOOOOO! No! No! No!” Lots of big tears and frowny faces ensue. My usual tricks do not work, and I start to wonder if we will ever get downstairs. Last week, while waiting for him to regain his composure, I started scratching some of the sticky stuff off the wooden top step, which used to have a carpet pad on it long ago. For some reason, this turned the tide, and my little helper joined me in getting rid of some of that yucky stuff. “EEEEEWWWW!” he said, with glee. Who knew that would cheer him up? Who knows if it will work next time?
That’s the fun part of those alleged Terrible Twos – they keep us guessing. I know it’s a huge pain if you’re a mom trying to get to work and get the child dressed and out the door, but lucky me, I don’t have to worry about that any more. I definitely don’t like seeing a sad boy, because my goal in life is to make him happy all the time, but it’s so clear to me, wearing my rose-colored Grandmother Goggles, that he is just exercising his independence and testing the limits. It’s developmentally appropriate, so it means he’s growing and learning.
Illustration from Your Two Year Old by Louise Bates Ames
One of my bibles, Your Two Year Old: Terrible or Tender, by Louise Bates Ames, describes this time as a period of “disequilibrium,” to be followed by a period of “equilibrium,” of course. These periods last about 6 months, and that is perfect timing. My second grandson, Little O’s baby brother, is expected at the end of June!