I am happy to announce that I am done with the Terrible Twos. I don’t say this to make those of you in the throes of dealing with a booger-eating toddler feel bad. I say it because I survived and you will too. I have three children, and not to state the obvious, but they were all two once. Although, I have a four-year-old now, and she’s a little more functional than a two-year-old, but she is still a pretty big jerk sometimes.
Looking back on the Twos, I have to admit, in the moment, they were frustrating, but they really weren’t that terrible. Sure, two-year-olds are frustrating, loud little humans with a lot of developmental growth happening, but it’s the reality of accepting that they are, in fact, developing, that will make this whole endeavor a little more bearable.
And I know, I know… you might actually be trying to read this with a snot nosed two-year-old attached to your leg, wiping boogers on your pants and screaming, all the while rolling your eyes. But it’s true.
As a father of a two-year-old, I spent so much time asking “why?” Why did my child just take their pants off at Target? Why did they try to eat dog poop? Why won’t they let me pee alone?
Eventually I started to accept that what I was dealing with was a very raw product. I abandoned logic and accepted, in the core of my being, that my two-year-old was just trying to figure everything out. And it was only then that I stopped wanting to light the house on fire.
Living with a two-year-old feels like living with a bumper car, the driver not touching the wheel, foot on the gas. Your job as a parent is to help that driver learn how to use the brake, and to steer, and how to stop slamming into everything valuable. And while that sounds easy, realize that the driver can’t communicate all that well so you’ve got to teach them how to speak first. Also, they poop their pants on the regular.
I could go on, but you get the idea. You can’t kick this driver out of the house because there are laws against that — and you also love them to pieces — so you have to teach them so that one day you can learn to live with each other. Yes, it’s frustrating, but ultimately it’s not the two-year-old’s fault. And right there, in that realization, is where you will find your calm.
Is this making you feel better about it all? I hope so. Because it does get better. It’s a slow process, but eventually the little tyke learns how to take the wheel. They learn how to use the brake. And they stop pooping their pants. They stop getting up before God created the earth for a string cheese.
And naturally, it’s more than just the Twos. In my opinion, the moment a child begins to walk, your life begins to end. And once they can turn on the TV in the morning, your life begins again. But right there, in the heart of all that is the Twos, taking a moment to stop and realize that this child isn’t doing any of it intentionally and they aren’t actually trying to set the world on fire, and that what they really need is your love and guidance to teach them how to do what humans do, can help you to stop feeling like you are going bonkers.
I can still recall the moment my youngest first used the potty. I was standing over her in the restroom. She sat there with her little legs dangling 7 inches above the floor, Peppa Pig underwear around ankles. She looked up at me with the softest, sweetest little smile that seemed to say, “Thank you.” Or at least that’s what I told myself it said. It helps to do things like that. I must admit, though, I felt a huge sense of satisfaction in that moment, like I’d really shown my daughter something important. And the fact was, I had.
So if you are in the thick of it, in the trenches of the Twos, I hear you. I know your frustration. I know it’s maddening. You feel suffocated with them climbing on you all the time. You can’t go anywhere without them screaming. You can’t take a moment’s break without that fear in the back of your mind that they might, in fact, kill themselves.
You’re exhausted. It’s exhausting, I know.
Take comfort in the fact that with each lesson learned, with each correction, with each small milestone they begin to act more like an actual human. And honestly, that’s what you are in it for. You are creating functional humans.
This is the beginning. This is the start of their long journey, and you are there to help put down those first foundations. When you think about it that way, it’s pretty awesome to imagine how far they will go. So hold strong, stay calm, and realize that you can, in fact, do this.
Besides, I hear three is worse. Sorry.