Everyone is aware of the stage of development between eighteen and thirty-six months of age when a child begins to push their boundaries and test their limits. Most parents go with the nickname "Terrible Twos". But some parents, especially first time parents, are so glazed over with love and adoration for their precious baby that they don't even realize that the Terrible Twos have arrived. When they do, it's usually when their child is melting down in the middle of the grocery store and all they can do is grab a bag of cheese puffs off of the shelf and start eating away their pain. I could be an innocent bystander and chuckle in the next aisle over when I hear your kid melting down, but I'm generally a nice guy, so I am going to give you five sure-fire ways to tell if your child is going through the Terrible Twos. That way, you will be able to seek out some good advice for how to handle your cute little ticking time bomb.
1. The word "NO" becomes the only word she knows.
You may not even realize it, but your child already knows how to say "No." How do they know? You already taught them. When they realize that they have the ability to vocalize that same word back at you, you know you are close to hitting the Terrible Twos. Suddenly, the most routine activities are met with the utmost displeasure. "Let's get up." "NOOOOO!" "Let's change that diaper." "NOOOOO!" "Let's eat waffles." "NOO - waffles? OKAY!" It can literally drive you crazy or at least drive you to drink. Which brings me to number two.
2. Stress-related consumption is out of control.
3. You find yourself alone with your child on the weekend.
Okay, now that we've cleared that up, let's talk about division of labor during the Terrible Twos. An at-home parent needs time away from parenting too. Do you hear that working moms and dads? Yes, we love what we do, but we also need a break every now and then to communicate with rational people. Toddlers are not rational. The same thing goes for you at-home parents. Just because your working partner is home does not mean you are off the hook. You must be available to assist. Your partner does not handle these meltdowns every day like you do. My wife (who works during the week) was caring for our daughter while I had a particularly busy weekend. Sunday came around, and we talked about what to do for lunch after church. I said, "Do you want me to stop and pick up some rolls so I can grill hot dogs?" No lie, she looked at me in all seriousness and said, "I will get the rolls. I'm going to the store. Don't take that from me!" She's great with our daughter, but everyone needs a break eventually. Know your partner's limits and be prepared to step in.
4. You begin to purchase food for its bargaining power
5. Your child puts YOU in time out.
On Sunday, my wife and I woke the little one up from her nap and tried to get her dressed to go outside. She was very excited to go outside, so she was cooperative. After mommy got her changed and dressed, they started walking out of the room. I began to follow behind them, but my daughter looked back and said, "NO! You stay here." Mommy asked her, "Can Daddy come outside with us?" "NO! Stay in my room." I was being put in timeout. So, they started walking down the stairs, and I followed behind them a bit, not willing to accept my punishment. My daughter heard me walking and she looked over he shoulder and gave me "the look" and said, "NO, Daddy, you stay!" Hey, I thought I was in charge?
What are some other tell-tale signs that the Terrible Twos have arrived? What horror stories do you have to share with us rookie parents?