Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Terrible Twos Are In Fact Completely Terrible

Yes, I will say it again. The terrible twos are, in fact, completely terrible. Knock on wood that so far only one of our two year olds is in the terrible twos. I may not be able to see them reach 3 1/2 because I will have had a massive coronary or have gone mad if they both start acting, well so darn right terrible.

There are those sweet, fun, funny, and tender moments. But the terrible ones can crowd those out at times. Last night was the fundraiser at California Pizza Kitchen. We arrive and start to put sandals on the girls because they were tired of their sneakers. Ladybug throws a fit in the parking lot because she wants to wear the shoes Angelfish is wearing and Angelfish refused to give them to her. Angelfish is a rather selfless child for a 2 year old and often will give Ladybug what she wants but not today, and to be perfectly honest I don't think she should give her sister everything because she should get to wear the flip flops sometimes too! But Ladybug is screaming so loudly that people are looking. Luckily they appear to be other parents because after seeing that we were not even touching our child but trying to calm her down by talking to her, they wandered off. Finally, Angelfish & I went into the restaurant and Mr. Darcy & Ladybug worked it out somehow and came in about 10 minutes later. 10 minutes is an eternity in the life of a 2 year old but that is how long it took.

Throughout dinner Ladybug behaved ok. She wasn't really listening but not doing anything overly damaging other than standing up the entire time and throwing a fit because after insisting that she wanted pizza for dinner when it arrived she didn't want it. Daddy took her outside and whatever happened out there she was a good bit better the rest of dinner.

And then we got home. She wanted to wear a flower pajama top that is dirty and we had other pajamas for her... and she threw a complete and utter fit. On the floor, flailing her arms and legs, screaming and wailing and insisting on her way. No form of parenting or reprimands worked. Finally, Mr. Darcy had to leave the room because he was at that point where he was going to completely lose it. That seemed to work because Ladybug realized he was gone and wanted him and I had to explain that because of how she was acting Daddy couldn't talk to her right now because he was so upset. After I talked to her a little while and Mr. Darcy came back in because Angelfish was asking for him, Ladybug asked for permission to get out of bed and say she was sorry to her Daddy.

Then this morning... dear Lord, Ladybug was at it again. Angelfish and I were in the bathroom together and Ladybug had run off to find Daddy. Mr. Darcy wandered back to us and I gave him an outfit for Ladybug along with 2 pairs of underpants. He goes and talks to Ladybug about her clothes and she completely melts down. So Mr. Darcy leaves the room and goes into the girls' bedroom because the shirt I gave him had worked in dirt that hasn't come out in the wash (it was inside out when I took it out of the clean clothes) and he went to get a new one. When he went back Ladybug was still throwing a fit and the clothing mysteriously had disappeared (and we couldn't find what she did with them this morning). So he picked out another pair of shorts for her. And the fit continued. 10 minutes in, he put her in time out so she'd be stationary and told me he couldn't take it any more. So we switched. I let her out of the time out chair and she was completely enraged... to the point she was making noises that sounded like a wild animal growling and grunting at the same time. I tried to take her shirt off and she went ballistic - kicking me, pushing me, hitting me and anything and everything else around us. Thankful for the advice of another Mom from daycare who works in the juvenile justice system and told me about a modified hold that does not hurt but that keeps a child from hurting themselves and others that she uses on her own 3 year old, I put her in a bear hug restraint to 1) keep her from hurting herself and 2) to keep her from hurting me. She may be 2 but she is wicked strong. I had to hold her that way, calmly talking to her during which time she went from a cross legged seated position with both arms crossed against her chest while I held her tightly (but without hurting her, of course) to forcing her way into a standing position with her arms free and facing me so she could try to hit me some more. Back into the bear hug until she finally calmed down and screamed "I don't want to change my clothes. I want pajamas." I continued to talk calmly and tell her why she needed to change, etc. Turns out, she wanted to sleep and wear her pajamas still. I told her Mommy wanted that today too but that I have to take her to daycare, go workout, and go to work, cook dinner, etc. so I had to get up too and pointed out that I was dressed. She let me put on her shirt and decided it was cozy enough, then she went potty, got dressed the rest of the way and had a small meltdown because Daddy wasn't driving them today. But she got over it as soon as we pulled out of the driveway and she couldn't see Daddy anymore. Then all happiness and smiles the rest of the drive and at daycare.

What was Angelfish doing during all of this? Wandering around the house like a happy little sprite, talking to Daddy, getting dressed, eating muffins at the table, and then when Ladybug emerged she gave her a hug and tried to cheer her up by running around being silly. Ladybug even asked her "What are you doing Angelfish?" and Angelfish said "I'm running around being funny so you not cry more." She is so easy going and happy that it makes Ladybug's behavior seem even worse.

Luckily, I spilled their milk that I brought to daycare for them. (They had to finish breakfast there because well, Ladybug hadn't eaten and it was time to go.) I made a face but didn't say a word and one of the ladies said, "One of those mornings?" And I told her what happened as we cleaned up the large cup of milk that was now everywhere. She told me that this is a very hard age and that kids go through this and that it will pass. She told me about her kids and the fits that they had when they were Ladybug's age. She told me the bear hug is a good way to hold her still to get her to calm down when she's at the point that she's so worked up that she is wild like she was. She told me I did the right thing by restraining her but remaining calm and talking to her in soothing tones like I did. And then she and the other morning teacher told me "Just wait until they're teenagers." I asked why Ladybug was like this when Angelfish was not. And she told me that Angelfish is just one of those rare children who is happy, goes with the flow and is pretty laid back... an anomaly. My Dad tells me that I was like Angelfish as a child, and not having any brothers or sisters that's the only frame of reference he has. I relish Angelfish's happy moods and loving ways... and thank the heavens for them even more on days when Ladybug is in high drudgeon. I don't love Ladybug any less for it, but it makes it harder to deal with.

Now, if we can survive Ladybug's moods without giving in to her I will deserve a Mommy merit badge of some sort. Or as my Grammy used to tell my Aunt when she was a teenager, that merit badge will be the version of "I hope you have children just like you are when you get older." Although, after surviving the morning and having to postpone my swim workout until later today due to all the excitement, I don't think I would even wish it on her.

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