Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The Terrible Twos
"The terrible twos," people will say as they nod knowingly, when Abbey voices her opinion about something. "Kids are just awful from two to four years," another said when she threw a tantrum.
My first problem with this is that it implies Abbey - and every other two-year-old - is a horrible person for an entire year (or three, according to some as mentioned above) of her life. That's a pretty broad statement, and anyone who spends any length of time with her would know that the bad moments are pretty few and far between. (And by the way, having an opinion is not a bad thing - even for a two-year-old.)
The other problem is that the label seems to give an excuse for some behaviour that I'd rather not encourage. I make no secret of the fact that I expect a lot from my daughter in many ways, and I don't make any excuses. If she's having a not-so-great moment, it's just that - it's not because she's two, it isn't because she doesn't know any better. It's just a bad moment.
I try to look at it is as an opportunity. For example, Abbey comes home from her two days of childcare each week with some very interesting learnings. At first, I would sigh and wonder if I should just keep her home to avoid the extra discipline required on the other days. (I know it would all happen eventually anyway, but this would be a melodramatic procrastination technique!) Then I realised that if she doesn't see others behaving badly, she won't learn what not to do. Now, I view it as an opportunity to teach her right from wrong.
Nevertheless, none of this has anything to do with the fact she is two. I've seen kids of all ages - and adults - get upset, throw tantrums, push the limits and assert their independence, and no one says, 'Oh yes, the frightful fives' or 'the sucky sevens' or 'the annoying adult years'. But if a two-year-old does it? It's the old terrible twos line.
I've started responding with one word to all those labellers - no. I hope by doing this, Abbey notices that I won't take excuses and I won't have others cast judgement over her.
Abbey is now two years and eight months. These last months have been some of the most wonderful in our mother-daughter relationship. She is a delight - independent and feisty, hilarious with a very wicked sense of humour, daring and brave, energetic and willing to try anything.
But terrible? Most definitely not.
Posted at 6:57 AM