Very few parents are exempt from the terrible twos. Whether the stage manifests in tantrums, or tears, or sneakiness, or general malaise, it tends to haunt parents of toddlers wherever they go. For the most part, babies are well behaved, but one never knows when a bad moment will strike. If it happens to be in front of people, all you can do is brave the embarrassment with a smile and know that given enough time, everything evens out.
When I first met my friend, she stopped by with her adorable 14-month-old son. He was perfectly well behaved, happy, quiet, and all-around cute as could be. My two-year-old children, on the other hand, were rambunctious, loud and annoying. I had to put them in ‘time out’ three times during her short visit. I was mortified. Through the tears and the screams and the fish flopping, I thought surely I’d never see my friend again. And when we did end up seeing each other again, I found myself ever-ready to apologize for their behavior, to blame myself for my children’s apparent shortcomings and to congratulate her on her effortless parenting style that seemed to work so well.
What I failed to realize is that my children didn’t have any shortcomings other than the fact that they had just turned two. Unless you’re incredible lucky, your child will never be an angel all of the time, and somehow during that traumatic visit and the weeks afterward, I had totally forgotten that at 14 months my babies were divine company. All I could see was the tantrum they had thrown the day before, the tantrum they were throwing today and the tantrum they were surely going to throw tomorrow.
But one day they didn’t. And the day after that, they didn’t again. Are we tantrum free now? Not by a long shot, but I’ve gotten my amiable babies back in a big way.
This afternoon, I took those amiable babies over to my friend’s house. She’d invited us for lunch. When we arrived, her son was not yet back with his father, and when they came in, the boy was crying.
“No, baby. No cry. No cry. Happy baby,” my babies chanted at him, giving him hugs and kisses. They continued this model behavior, sharing toys, dancing, laughing and playing quietly. At one point, my friend’s husband said to me, “What have you been giving the twins to keep them so quiet?”
I laughed and said, “I gave them a couple of months. Your baby is just getting to the stage mine were in when you met me. But the good news is, we’re proof that it will only be a phase.”
When your children drive you nuts, when they whine and grovel and yell and hit, when they scream and bite and cry and flop around, remember: this is a fleeting moment in their childhood and a fleeting moment in your parenthood. It is not a reflection on them, and it is not a reflection on you. It simply is what it is.
On the other hand, maybe her son freaked out because she served this for lunch:
I know I did.