Thursday, September 29, 2011

triple aries terrible twos

yes, i said it, the terrible twos. i used to scoff at that statement when tashi was two. though feisty and rebellious, she was rarely terrible. but the parenting journey has been a bit tough lately. my two and a half year old boy has really been testing my patience. i want to cry, he is so sweet sometimes, and i want to scream, he cries so much sometimes!

i know it is part of being two (though not always: tashi was a fearsome four), and that perhaps -- with a boy -- i don't want to discourage his expression of emotion and sensitivity. but sometimes it is so inexplicable. i truly can't figure out what sets him off at moments. he is rather advanced when it comes to language skills (or so it seems) but when it comes time to express his frustrations with words, he tends to prefer tearful, screaming fits.

this begins at breakfast time, when he requests at least five different things but truly doesn't want any of them. it occupies play time when the square doesn't fit into the circle, or the big truck doesn't fit into the bed of the smaller truck, or the trailer just won't stay hooked on. it comes crashing down in toddler yoga when he refuses to do any of the moves that he does all the time at home, is completely freaked out by an activity he loved the previous week, and certainly doesn't want to lay down in savasana at the end. when i have to wake him from his nap so we can go and pick up his sister from school, well that sometimes doesn't go over very well! dinner time oh dinner time, the cooking of it, the eating of it, so often a struggle. and bed time. i won't even go there.

and there are all the other things, the destruct-o-boy tendencies of throwing, hitting, slamming, jamming, whacking, twanging, climbing, and touching. always touching everything. toddlers are so very tactile. and of course, there are times when all this stuff just makes me giggle, when the actions and the contradictions and the exclamations are even kind of cute.

and then there are times (more often than not?) when he completely crushes me with his thoughtfulness, his curious statements and bright observations. his thank you and actually and yes, mama. cuddled up reading books, we can sit there for hours, turning the pages. lining up the cars, the concentration and focus is so intent. the glee he feels in the natural world. his physical energy, as when we hang out on the deck and he repeatedly bellows, set run!, and then takes off in his awesome toddler sprint-bounce from one end of the deck to the other. and the things that he lets me do with ease (that tashi used to fight with claws out): comb his hair, cut his bangs, trim his nails, pull out an awful tick with tweezers. he can be so very cooperative. so incredibly enthusiastic. and his smile is the end and beginning of all things.

i can't help but wonder sometimes: will it always be this way? will he always challenge our authority? will he always have tantrums when things don't go as he wants? will he always contradict us? will he ever respect elders and do as they request? will he always be opposite boy? i want him to be strong, creative, wise, opinionated and in touch with his emotions. but is any of this leading to that? i know that i don't know. and that it is all perfectly normal. and that i am so very blessed.

i think the thing that my child acting out triggers most, is the fear that i am perhaps doing something wrong. so it becomes less about him, and more about me. and isn't that just selfish?

but, no, not completely selfish. because one might do things wrong. and it's important to identify that for a child's sake. most of us learn to be parents, while we are parents. it's important to reinvent the wheel, over an over. and just because you have one kid, doesn't mean that the next won't take you to a completely new wonderland.

i think sometimes i forget to meet tristan right where he's at. and sometimes, i just don't know where he's at. often i'm consumed by my own demands, passions, and indulgences, and he is just there, a little boy struggling to communicate, to piece the world together so that it functions smoothly. a little boy asking for help.

as the leaves fall curled into themselves on the dusky road, we face a season where we too curl in. as the darkness finds us earlier, i scrabble to find the light sources. strung on the wheels that turn ours days, our light sources. and so this is what i meditate on now: how to maximize joy.

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