Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Calling all 2 YR OLDS!

Yup, you know who you are.   You are the (almost) 2 year old who is full of independence, full of exploration, full of intrigue, and just plain full of yourself!  I'm the mommy of an (almost) 2 year old so you can't get anything by me!  Tantrum you say?  Am I not getting your juice fast enough for your liking?  You WANT that toy right now?  You EXPECT to go "bye bye" every time you see me open the closet or see your coat?  And while we're at it, allow me to let you in on a little secret... I actually know that you CAN say "please" and "thank you",  and I also know that you are just choosing not to do it when I ask.

So friends, I have an announcement to make:

In honor of Ash Wednesday, I have decided that I will NOT be giving up anything for Lent or doing any extra sacrificing...for one reason and one reason only..

I have a 2 year old.

Here are a few reasons why my Lent is already jam packed:

  • My days are full of gobbledy gook and hand gestures and pointing and grunting.  It actually reminds me of when I taught English to Spanish children at a school in Hastings, England.  Talking louder and slower doesn't always work!
  • My days are up, down, in between and backwards.  For example, a wonderful hug and followed by a a tantrum and a squeal.  Running through the house waving a screw driver in the air followed by the first time he says a new word.
  • My days are unpredictable at best and exhausting at worst (if that even makes sense!)  Cuddle time?  Can we cuddle now?  Oh, age 2 is so hard because of the lack of interest in cuddling from this independent explorer!  Come to think of it, would Columbus have wanted to cuddle after discovering the Americas? I think not!  
  • My days are full of preparing meals for a human who is just getting used to teeth, for goodness sake!  I mean, how good can that go when you haven't even had a full set of teeth for more than a few months?  Chew food, bite it, swallow it.  These hard things that I can so adorably point to are for what?  However, tonight went well at meal time, I think.  We played a new game called "night night fish stick".  John sat there playing with his food and then he set the fish stick down on the table so I said, "Awe, night night fish stick", and I patted the fish stick. Then he picked it up and I reacted with a silly noise and he took a big bite! This prompted me to squeal and say, "Oh no!! Fish stick in the tummy?!!"  With this utterly ridiculous retort from me came a belly laugh from him.  Then back to "night night fish stick!" then another bite! He actually ate 2 whole fish sticks that way!  And now please see my previous bullet point above about being exhausted. 

Well, since beginning this post, I took a break to put John (my bubbly, bounding and blabbering 2 year old) to bed.  I have decided that I actually WILL give something up for Lent and make some more sacrifices. 

After all, it is so quiet now that he is in bed and we always have such a fun bedtime routine.  If you haven't done it with your 2 year old, you must have some "mirror time".  This happens after washing hands, face and brushing teeth (in his oh, so independent way, of course).  

Pick him up and hold him to cheek to cheek and look at him in the mirror and smile at him and with him.  He WILL smile since toddlers love to look in the mirror.  They are just beginning to realize that is him AND Mommy together and not two complete strangers looking back! And there is the cuddle time and the smiles and the giggles I have longed for all day condensed down to a few seconds of sheer bliss.  

Come to think of it, I have A LOT of penance to do this Lent.  Having this little (almost) 2 year old living in my house is WAY more than I deserve.  

And now to address those tantrums.  I read an article on yahoo yesterday about what Jo Frost, the Supernanny, has to say about how to deal with tantrums.  You can check it out HERE.  If you are not using any of these tactics and even if you are, it is worth looking at just to know you are not alone!  

One take away from this article is that parents need to be decisive.  For example, even in your tone of voice, don't SOUND like you are questioning yourself while you are giving directions to your child.  If there is any sound of apprehension or uncertainty in your voice, he/she WILL pick up on it.  I know this from my years of teaching.  If I sounded unsure in my classroom as a new teacher then I had many more behavioral issues and disrespect come my way.  If am decisive and confident, there is not room to budge and better results come for all.  

One time, while visiting a dear friend, my daughter Carmen had a complete meltdown and tantrum over something that could have been avoided altogether.  All he had to do was take a different tone with her and reword his request!  It was all over putting her jacket on.  I knew she should have her jacket on.  Well, he thought he was helping out by asking in a sing-songy voice, "Carmen, want to get your jacket on?"  I was already on my way down to the car with her brother when I heard the screaming.

Nooooo!!!!  In that moment, I knew she would NOT be putting her jacket on!  To her, she heard a question and a choice and she went with it.  We still laugh about that to this day.  I explained to him that next time he just needs to sound more confident and reword the request by saying, "Carmen, it's time to put your jacket on."  While taking into account that all children are different, generally when the child receives the direction in a clear and concise way, then there is very little space in which to maneuver a tantrum.  The strong willed child, especially, needs clear boundaries.  Confidence is so important in parenting.  If it is a non-negotiable, then there is no reason to ask a question to a child from whom you expect something. Choices are good for the child, but not all the time.  There has to be decisiveness on the part of the parent/teacher. 

I am a huge fan of the Supernanny's cure for bedtime routine woes.  I am looking forward to reading more of her newest book about toddlers.  

Well, even though we have added sacrifices and penance to do during our 40 day sojourn in the desert this Lent, let us remember that our sacrifices AND rewards are right in front of us every day.  Embrace every moment and trudge on!

What would a post be about 2 year old's if I didn't have a couple of videos starring my very own?  Sooo, without further ado...

First, you will see my (almost) 2 year old being very helpful and asserting his independence by carrying wood into the house from the garage.  

The second video is a snapshot of what it is like to come home to him after being gone all day.  I LOVE that I could catch this on video.  I have to note that I was NOT ignoring Carmen, I was so happy to see her, too!  She knew I was trying to get John on video. :)  

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