|Light blue touch paper and step well back.|
“The terrible two’s” is a bit of a misnomer but, to be fair, the more accurate “The Terrible 18 months until God knows when” is nowhere near as catchy.
Sadly, whilst Marty might have been a little slow learning to crawl and walk, he was right there on the button when it came to the terrible two’s. I don’t know how he learnt it but as he turned 18 months he suddenly realised a wonderful truth: “If I cry, they will come!”, followed by “If I cry really hard I may even get my own way.. well maybe not but it’s worth trying anyway.” By all accounts they can keep this up for quite a number of years in fact, if the House of Commons is anything to go by, some can keep it up well into their dotage.
Apparently this has nothing to do with your child suddenly deciding to become a truculent little bugger because he or she thinks it will wind you up - although it’s hard not to come to that conclusion sometimes - but everything to do with their brain developing to a stage where an idea of ‘self’ emerges. Until that stage a baby couldn’t readily discern between themselves and their surroundings; they ask their arm to move and it moves, they ask their parents to move and they move, they ask the sky to move and the clouds pass by. As a result they assume they are all the same; they are at one with the world and the world is at one with them. Alas, this illusion only persists if you resort to class A drugs, for the rest of us you have to give up on this conclusion and come to an idea of ‘self’.
Of course there is a lot to be said for a sense of self but it does first insist on you giving up control of a lot of things. Marty is slowly learning this with planes; it doesn’t matter how much he screams and cries, planes only show up in the skies above Lincolnshire as and when they want to. Things are proving less straightforward with his parents.
The problem is that he’s being forced to give up on the idea of being able to control everything in life and as a result he’s really fighting to control something. The latest incarnation of this frustration is his refusal to walk anywhere if you are holding on to his reins.
If I’m in the right mood, i.e. it’s not 4am, I find these little temper tantrums quite amusing, although Marty is still only dallying with tantrums in that he is yet to throw himself to the floor of the local supermarket and scream and shout whilst pounding the floor with his arms and legs. I dare say this will happen in the next week or so and I’ll have to smile that dangerous smile at the passing shoppers as they give that look that says “Can’t you control your kid?” To which the answer is of course is “Yes. So one more word and I’ll let him loose on you!”
Of course there are many upsides to this stage in your child’s life in that both of you are going to improve your negotiating skills enormously, which is really what it’s all about; Marty wants total control, I’m happy to give him some - This article at safekids.co.uk covers it all quite nicely.
On a slightly different point I read a while back that at the age of two a child finally becomes more intelligent than a dog. I have a few issues with this statement but the biggest one is that the author cannot ever have met my dog – we have moss growing in the garden that could run intellectual rings around our dog, and trust me, it’s not even smart moss!