Terrible Twos

The name is misleading. I would even consider it a misnomer. "The Terrible Twos"-- you know what's terrible? Cleaning out the kitty litter, changing an especially runny diaper, being congested in one nostril while you're trying to sleep, driving behind someone going five below the speed limit in the left hand lane... There are plenty of things that are "terrible" but the toddler years are not one of them. No, the age two is *expletive* awful. They're horrifying. Sometimes I feel like I am watching a live adaptation of The Exorcist or having an extremely vivid, and loud, nightmare when my son is in the throws of a tantrum. It wouldn't be politically correct, or probably as catchy, to call this age what it really is. It's effing awful.

My son has particularly bad tantrums. We've been referred to behavioral therapy, bought discipline DVDs, I was told to "pray over him so any evil spirits leave his body" after someone witnessed a nighttime tantrum, and family members consistently tell him how "intense" and "extreme" his moods are. I get it. I am the same way and I know how he feels. My heart breaks for his future because I know the struggle he is going to face when he navigates the world and has to learn that his moods and intense anger are not acceptable and he isn't sure how to control it yet. I see myself in my son and I am heartbroken and incensed that I passed this trait on to him. It is not his fault and he has a long and hard road ahead in learning how to balance, adjust, and manage his feelings. Or, for all I know, he might just have an extreme case of the effing awful, er- I mean, terrible twos... like most other toddlers I know.

All that said, tonight I found myself on edge. He hasn't had an explosive tantrum in two days. I was waiting for it. He's had two good days (chocked full of the typical not listening, throwing a stuffed animal, or jumping on the couch) and I felt like he was a ticking time bomb. If you were to ask me to describe my kid, I would first say, in the most loving way, that he can be awful. Don't get me wrong- he is the most handsome, sweet, loving, and caring kid I know... at times. He is also sometimes the loudest, meanest, most aggressive child I know. Tonight, though, I realized that I was selling my own son short. I realized that I focus on a lot of his negatives-- his screaming, breaking, kicking, hitting, beating, etc. A one hour long tantrum affects me so much more than a whole day full of giggles, snuggles, and kisses. For example, just before I came to this revelation, he looked at me and said "Mommy,  I have a secret. I love you." Except, I had no idea what he was saying because I couldn't understand him-- I only heard "Mommy, I khgy lkjkjbgy. I uv ooooh." He got mad and frustrated that I didn't know what he was saying and my anxiety shot through the roof. When I finally understood what he had said and he calmed down my heart melted. But a minute later I was reflecting back to two days ago when he was punching the walls and throwing his timer and screaming, and I was caught up in the negative instead of relishing in the positive.

I hate the terrible twos. I know they're an integral part of their development and it is a child's way of expressing their independence, testing boundaries, and learning limits. But these "terrible" years are more than just terrible-- at times. As a mom I need to stop focusing on the terrible parts of my children's behavior. It is not fair to equate my son with only his tantrums-- he is not an adult and to expect anything more than two year old behavior is unfair to him. There is so much more good in him and I feel that if those parts are appreciated, nurtured, and rewarded that the terrible tantrums would be less horrific and traumatizing. As I write this my son is in bed-- he has had two tantrum free days and as sure as the sun will rise, I'd bet that tomorrow brings some sort of outburst. But that's okay. Because tomorrow will also bring at least a kiss, a hug, and a giggle. That's good enough for me. For now, I'll chalk everything up to him just being a "terrible two" year old and help him deal with his feelings and love him extra hard. I have heard that three is worse, though... I'm sure that age will bring with it more *expletive* tantrums and another misleading, catchy name.

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