Reliving the Terrible Twos

Reliving the Terrible Twos

Before Connor, I thought I had learned a lot about parenting in general.  Gabe was almost four when Connor made his grand entrance, and in nearly four years I considered myself a “parenting pro”.  These days, I consider myself a parenting buffoon.  Bill Cosby said it best when he said this in one of his routines:

“[Two children] qualifies, because a person with one child, I don’t really call them a parent… because there are too many things left out.  For instance, if something’s broken in the house, you have one child, you know who did it! See, you don’t have to go through “I… I… I…”. You know the child did it! Also, people with one child do not have to go through “Willyoustoptouchingme?” I mean, if you got one child and the child is doing that, then you gotta take it away.”

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And he was right, y’all.  The older I get, the funnier that man becomes to me.  I don’t care if everyone is butt-hurt over whatever happened forty years ago.  The man was a parenting genius, and it’s funny because it all rings true.

Like I said, before I had Connor I thought I had this whole parenting gig figured out.  Gabe was such a good baby and not that bad of a toddler.  I knew what he needed and what he wanted, and unless I was at school or work, he had my undivided attention.  When I was pregnant with Con, Evan & I included him on everything throughout my pregnancy and I can say with certainty that he never felt left-out or unwanted.  He loved Connor from the moment he knew about him (adores him to this day) and was over the moon when he finally got to meet “liddle brudder”.  I was positive that having two would be no different except for the obvious addition.  I was WRONG.

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Two years and a few figurative heart-attacks later, I realize just how retarded I must have sounded to anyone who already had multiple children.  My house is a wreck.  My nerves… they’re a wreck.  I have forgotten the meaning of sleep and sanity, and I’m still trying to figure out how it’s even humanly possible to be SO PISSED OFF at my kids and at the same time LOVE THEM EVEN MORE than I did prior to pissed off-dom.  It’s a crazy thing, parenting two children (or maybe just boys…?  dunno).  Don’t get me wrong — single-kid parenting had its challenges.  Like… ah, hell.  I can’t think of anything.  Because everything that I used to think was hard or a pain in the ass… it really wasn’t, in hindsight.  There was a point when Gabe was challenging and I remember thinking, “How… the hell do people do this?!”  And now all I can do is laugh at my former self.

Connor has surpassed, “challenging”.  If I’d given birth to Connor first, the likelihood of there having been a second child would have been… not at all likely.  Connor is night to Gabe’s day.  I’ve never met such a strong-willed kid.  At least, I’ve never met such a strong-willed child that I didn’t want to throat punch on occastion*.  Forget the terrible two’s; Connor knows no prejudice to any age.  After six months, the jig was up, and he went from sweet, tiny little thing, to HOLY HELL, DON’T GIVE IT FOOD AFTER MIDNIGHT.

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I love both of my boys, don’t get me wrong.  I only joke about all of this because I make horrible, ugly faces when I’m crying, and I’m not trying to do that to you guys.  That said, isn’t adding levity to some situations the best way to get over them or to keep one’s sanity?  Gabe has his faults, that’s for sure.  Connor isn’t alone in antics and shenanigans.  But Gabe isn’t as good at hiding his shenanigans; craftiness isn’t his strong suit.  That’s probably for the best since the (almost) two year old seems to think he’s Billy the Kid incarnate.  I am officially taking a backseat to parents who have more than two kids and who have not lost their minds.  Hats off to you guys — I really have no idea how you do it.  And SAHM’s?  Know that I’m sending you a mental Nobel Prize.  Staying home with 2+ ankle biters under the age of 18, and without visions of straitjackets in your head… that’s both admirable and terrifying.  Meanwhile, I’m over here trying my best to not spill my beer while I’m rocking in a corner come  two o’clock every afternoon.  All kids are different.  Maybe not wildly different as is the case with my boys, but they’re different nonetheless.  What discipline or praise may work on one child will probably not work on the next.. or the next, or the next, etc.

For example, Gabe came home the other day with a report on unusually bad behavior.  I took away Legos and anything with a screen.  His chore list increased, as well.  I told him that he could earn stuff back over the course of a few days if I received reports of good behavior.  Over the week, he steadily earned back his freedom.  I haven’t gotten a bad report on that kid since.

Connor doesn’t learn that way.  Let’s just say that we have a local exorcist on speed dial.  We’re still trying to figure out what gets his attention.  Granted, he is two.  But I’d already figured out Gabe’s kryptonite at this age, so I’m hopeful that Connor’s will turn up soon.

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Connor is not all bad, obviously.  He can be so sweet and he is smart and wildly independent.  I know his independence can eventually be great thing.  Gabe has to work for things; not that he’s stupid or slow, because he’s not.  But if you’ve kept up with my posts you know what little road blocks Gabe has had to learn around.  Connor comes by things naturally and with ease; he clearly does not have all the disadvantages Gabe does.  And I’m thinking that’s a big part of his current problem.  He knows what he wants and he knows how to get it; he just can’t quite figure out how to communicate that.  It will come, in time… and with that time his attitude will smooth out.  Until then, I’ll be over here hugging myself, with or without the help of a jacket.  The Terrible Twos are here… and I’m still not ready for them.
*No children were harmed in the writing before, during, or after this post.
**Day drinking was also not a factor.

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So… Is it Cinco de Mayo Yet?

So… Is it Cinco de Mayo Yet?

I only ask because it would seem that the Terrible Two’s has begun, and a margarita of the non-virgin kind would be MUCH appreciated.  You heard right, folks.  Tantrums, fits of rage, & blood-curdling screaming has become a way of life since this past weekend.

I hate those moms who deal with the “Terrible Two’s” like it’s no big deal.  Like, “Oh hey.. my kid’s been screaming for an hour… let me paint my nails.”  What the hell?!  I love Gabe… you all know that, and you’re all probably sick & tired of hearing me go on & on about how much I love spending time with him.  Well, here’s a couple of things:

1) I love spending time with Gabe.  When he’s not screaming.  kicking.  hitting.  and being a typical sufferer of the Terrible Two’s, thus making me and anyone in a ten-mile radius a sufferer of said Terrible Two’s.

2) Lately, although not always, that’s what I’ve been treated to.  A case of the TT’s.  Whoop-eee.

Can I handle it?  Well, sure.  But do I know what I’m doing?  Pfftttt.  Not a smooth chance in hell.  Someone could hand me a manual on child-rearing & I’d either shove it up their behind or use the pages as ear plugs.  So of course today his bed would choose to malfunction.  Which led me to believe that I could fix the damn thing.

Did.  not.  happen.

For a moment (five moments) the bed was 1-0.  Who won in the end?  That’d be me, sir.  I took that dude apart & now it lays against the wall… still arrogantly taunting me.  Looks like I’ll be purchasing another one tomorrow (because, of course, I can afford it).

(insert Jaws theme here)

Oh, the Terrible Two’s.  Whoever coined the phrase ought to be ashamed of themselves.  EVERYONE knows that the TT’s range from 19 months to 19 years of age.  Perhaps they meant the terrible two digits?  I dunno… just throwin’ ideas around a bit.

But can someone, anyone, please verify that this is just a horrible phase?  That one day I’ll wake up & Gabe will be back to his old self again?  Or at least more human?!  ‘Cause you know, in the grand scheme of things, instincts don’t mean crap.  And even if they kind of do… they don’t.  But let’s review some of my favorite parenting “techniques”.

1) Counting.  You know you’ve already lost the battle… so now you’re making sure that at least you can still count to five.

2) Time out.  I’ve actually succumb to this.  Only because he’s still too young for a spanking, counting is most certainly a last resort, and child protection would come get me if I stuck him on the roof for a few hours.  Oh, come on.  Like I’d ever do that.. don’t make that face.

3) First name.  First name, again.. but louder.  First AND middle name even louder.  First, middle, AND last name so loud the people down the road can hear you.  Repeat until the child either A) rolls eyes or B) acknowledges your existence in some other smart ass way.

4) Taking the toy/game/phone away.  This sometimes works with older children… but younger kids?  They don’t care.  Toddlers can make a toy out of anything.  Boxes.  Paper towel rolls.  …lint.  Whatever.

5) The “Stay-in-your-room-so-mom-can-go-outside-and-scream-at-the-gods-for-cursing-her-with-such-an-unruly-child” technique.  Word to the wise:  fussing at God never, EVER works.  He’s got a vicious sense of humor… and he’s comin’ for you.  Only joking.  Partially.

6) Hold the face & speak calmly.  This worked for me the first few minutes… only because Gabe was shocked at how (falsely) calm I seemed (wasn’t).  Then he realized it was a bluff and proceeded to scream.  Louder.

7) Reinforcement.  Sure, this works.  If you want to give your kid a gift every time he or she misbehaves.  “SUSAN!  You pulled the curtains down again?!  Here.  Have a damn cookie.”  Yeah.  NO.  Of course, you’re reinforced, too.  Temporarily.

Oh, yeah. Happy as a clam.

I’d think of more but I don’t care to.  I was in Target today and laughed silently to myself (not so silent, and not to myself) at a couple of parents about my age who were allowing their little girl (about 2.5) to scream at & hit them because she didn’t want to be in the buggy.  They were there for about 30 minutes.  I know this because the store finally got quiet, so I figured they either killed her or left.  For obvious reasons, I opted for the “they left” option.  Karma’s a bitch, ya know?  I should never have laughed at that couple because I certainly got mine this evening.

I love him.  I love him.  I love him.  But, oh… I hate, hate, HATE the Terrible Two’s.

Wish me luck, folks.  I might not survive this one.

I NEED that shirt.