Thursday 2 June 2011

The Tremendous Twos

I'll let you in on a little secret. I love toddlers! I always have! I have some memories of my toddler years, and all of them are very fond ones....playing with toys, painting at my easel, endless days at the beach, or on my grandparents farm.

I do kind of remember moments where I felt confused or abandoned, like being left at a baby sitters house, that confusion of not knowing where my mummy had gone. Not realising that she had to work or study. As a baby sitter and a Sunday school teacher, I loved the toddlers - their imagination, their ability to play, their communication with each other and with adults.

I find that I can emapthise with Joseph now. What he's going through now reminds me of how I felt when I moved from Australia to England. Things I did that worked in Australia were out of place in England. Things that I would say in England were taken as sarcasm or even as being rude, but in Australia would just be considered "straight talking", and, in fact, not even noticed at all. At times I felt that no one really understood me at all, and felt completely out of place.

For a toddler it's the same. That transition from living in baby land to living in grown up land is really difficult. Having some words "want drink" for example, but not  enough words to truly articulate want, and that clash between what toddler wants and what is safe, and what is acceptable. The behaviour that was cute and adorable in a baby, is not so acceptable in a two year old.

I hate the term "terrible twos". Who are they terrible for? I think sometimes they are terrible for us as parents because we lose that empathy. All we see is the tantrum, and work to hide our embarrassment and just make it all go away. We forget that we were once toddlers, confused about our place in the world, and desperately wanting something that we weren't "allowed" to have.

But put yourself in a toddler's shoes and the toddler years can be terrible, or they can be terrific! I think these two years that they are somewhat free of formal education are really precious. The ability to be messy, to shout, to learn, to love is really amazing, and should be cherished.

I feel sad when people scowl at me at the bus station when Joseph is a little tired and just ready for home, or in the supermarket when he just wants an apple and a drink. If we want to eat, we have to shop! It's not always possible to do it online, or with my husband, who has a car. We have to get out and interact with the world. Sometimes I wonder what the scowling people want me to do. When I talk softly and quietly to Joseph, the scowls get harsher, do they want me to shout? To smack? Do they think those things will help?

I try to have a gentle day with Joseph, time for play, time for sleep, time for food, and then time to do the things we have to do that he may not want to do.

I don't want to spend Joseph's toddler years in fear of the next tantrum. And I want him to start attaining some lovely memories of time spent enjoying and discovering his own unique view of the world.

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