So. I have a two year old.
Most days, she is very sweet, thoughtful, patient, gentle, and kind.
And then some days...she is very, very, VERY, well, two.
I must admit that this age intimidated me a bit thinking ahead when Emery was a baby. It seemed like the only association with the second year of life that I had heard about was that it is terrible. Quite terrible, I had heard. And, in some ways, those predictions and premonitions ring true.
It hurts my heart if Emery throws a seemingly random fit or if she pushes her best friend or takes a toy from her unsuspecting little sister. These spotty acts of unkindness do not match up with her consistently gentle, tender heart, and it makes this Mommy very sad to watch her walk through this phase of her little life.
However, I am learning that this stage of toddlerhood is so extremely important in the area of emotional control and management. If I put myself in Emery's shoes, it would be quite overwhelming to be experiencing so many new emotions and impulses all at once, and, even though she is a pretty articulate little lady, she is still just that: little. Half of the time, I don't think she even has the slightest clue as to why she might be reacting poorly or falling in a heap of tears in frustration. Most of the time, she is acting out of a place of heightened emotions that she now has to learn to harness...with our help, of course.
These sporadic bursts of emotion can mostly be managed with a verbal warning, followed by an apology from Emery to whomever she may have wronged. On the whole, she is very ready to apologize, hug and kiss, and restore peace. Then, the next step is what I have found to be most impactful: trying again. (The book Loving the Little Years includes a great section on this topic in case you are looking for a helpful read...I loved it!) Whatever the situation happened to be when she displayed unkind behavior, she must try it again the correct way. Then, when she successfully completes this task, whether it be sharing, being gentle, obeying, etc, she is awarded with praise and affirmation. I can see that peace has been restored to her little world, and she walks away feeling pretty proud of herself for fixing the situation.
There are times when a time-out is very necessary, and, sadly, there have been a few times when further discipline must be taken, especially when there is direct defiance, etc. Those times are few and far between, but it is still heartbreaking...for all involved.
I guess my point is that I am realizing just how necessary to life the 'terrible twos' really are. She is learning her boundaries, how to harness her emotions, and how to try again when she fails. She is learning to be repentant, how to apologize, and how to be kind. She is testing her limits, learning the consequences, and realizing when to change or alter her behavior. And, almost as important, Russell and I are learning our daughter: the sweet, the ornery, the emotional, the kind, the frustrated, the smart, the loving, the whole Emery.
If only these lessons didn't come with a touch of heartache...
Here's to the twos.
May we live to tell about it...