Monday, April 27, 2015

Mad Mondays: Google and the Terribe Twos

I have previously mentioned my love hate relationship with Google. Google is like a bottle of tequila. We think it will make us feel better, we indulge, and then we end up feeling like, well, not better. We vow to never do that again. I am done with you, Google! Then an impossibly long day finally ends, the kids are finally asleep, and you think, "Well, it's late. I have had a long day. I need a little reassurance. It's only a click away."

When you are an avid writer you have to be an avid reader, too. I love reading blogs. They tend to be more real then social media. On Friday I was having a particularly rough morning with my two year old. I was sitting on the couch with him enforcing a time out, asking him to say sorry to Mommy for hitting. Let me tell you, two year olds are as resilent as spies when they don't want to tell you something. After this fiasco, I Googled "terrible twos blogs" in search of an internet hug and consolation that I was not alone, in search of other stories from the trenches of raising a toddler discovering his inner devi... I mean growing independence. I'm a needy sonofabitch, aren't I? In all honesty, though, without coworkers to run things by, we need a network of people who can nod and smile and say, I've been there.&. Obviously, my living breathing friends are much better for this (kids or no they all have wisdom to share).  But that Google is just so accessible and inviting, and I am always up for a good read. Win win, right? Let me tell, you I would have been better off cracking open the tequila, nevermind that it was 10:00 A.M.

My oldest is almost six, so it's not like I haven't been here before, although with him it was the tyranical threes. Anyway, with Google at my finger tips, I typed in, &terrible twos blogs& and the FIRST thing to pop up was an article on Baby Center entitled, Are Parents To Blame for the "Terrible Twos"?! Literally, that was the first thing that came up. That made me feel so much better, because you know when you get assaulted by your own thirty pound child you feel like a stellar parent and a solid human being, so it is necessary for your ego to be taken down a peg. Google doesn't want you to go around thinking that normal two year olds with decent parents act like howler monkeys high on pixie sticks. So, in case you were wondering, it's your all your fault. If you were a good parent your two year old would love broccoli, spend his days quietly coloring (in an educational coloring book, not on the walls), and only speak when spoken to, responding with "Yes M'am and no M'am.". Feel better?

Am I being over sensitive to this article? Maybe, but really, the first thing to pop up? Now, my writing may not be notorious enough to pop up as the first Google hit, but I feel it is my duty to give you the real scoop here. Welcome to Google Addicts Anonymous. Recovery is possible.

The author of this article begins by acknowledging that all kids are different, with the exception of her own kids who are all exact replicas of each others' perfection. That last part was implied. She then goes on to tell us that while we naive fools may think that the terrible twos is a universal phenomenon and a normal developmental phase, we have been misinformed. Although two year olds' growing mobility and independence can get them into trouble, "How we respond to these developmental changes counts for a lot," and "Can our parenting contribute to toddler behavior problems?". So, I am guessing yelling, "I've had it with you today!" at 10:00 A.M. isn't particularly productive? I am so glad I Googled that. Next I am going to Google appropriate ways to respond when your sweet innocent baby turns into an unrecognizable, destructive, "go away, Mommy", spewing spawn before your very eyes.

Don't worry, we are covered. This incredibly helpful and not and all sanctimonious article sites a study with the enormous experimental pool of 59 parents questioned about their parenting methods. It was found that half of these toddler's behaviors of acting out could be linked to the parents' approach to discipline. Wow, what a thorough study. So you are telling me 29.5 toddlers can blame their parents for their toddler behavior?  Can they get that in writing to show their future therapists and correctional officers? What exactly were discipline approaches of these parents? A little more information would have been helpful. I am suddenly taken back to my experimental psychology class. Nothing ruffles my feathers like limited undefined research.

In a nut shell, the study found that toddlers who had permissive mothers and strict fathers had more behavior problems, so I guess the good cop bad cop thing is a crap shoot. Okay, so the concept that authoritative parenting, or presenting clear boundaries with love and guidance, is the most beneficial is not a new belief. Nor am I saying it's wrong. However, parenting in this manner will sadly not immune us from the terrible twos, the tyrannical threes, the fearsome fours... well, you get the picture.

The author feels it is important to add that the concept of the terrible twos is a cultural phenomenon. In the Mayan culture and in many other non Western cultures, young toddlers "generally get their way - at least in some respects". In many cultures people recognize that very young toddlers shouldn't be expected to share or follow other rules for which they are not ready. Wait, I thought permissive mothers were to blame for their toddlers' unsavory behaviors. Now our mistake is asking our toddlers to share and follow rules? Make up your damn mind, woman! Am I supposed to give my kid clear, concise limits and boundaries or am I suppose to let him do whatever the hell he wants? Hmmm, I am going to go out on a limb and say this is not a dichotomous situation.

So you see, if you are a permissive parent, you are to blame when your child goes through the terrible twos. On the other hand, if you give your child rules and expect them to share, you are to blame when they go through the terrible twos. Got it?
Now, apparently I was alone in my ruffled feathers response to this article, as I read a lot of agreeable comments. One grandmother chimed in that she doesn't believe in the terrible twos, only the terrific twos. I may have thrown up in my mouth a little.

Don't get me wrong, two year olds ARE terrific. It is amazing to watch them unabashedly discovering the world. My little guy finds joy in the simplest things and it rubs off on me. I wouldn't change a thing about his precocious little nature. Two year olds are sweet and smiley and simple and tons of fun. They open our eyes to the simple joys of every day life. But they can also drive us to drink sometimes and it is okay to acknowledge that. Also, it is normal. The mere task of keeping a two year old alive on a daily basis is exhausting. If you are wondering why your two year old can be a sweet little cherub one minute and a mini tornado the next and Google has failed to give you a direct answer, I'm here for you. The reason is - drumroll please -  because they are a two year old. Or three year old. Or four year old. Or teenager. It is not because you have too many or too few rules, or because steam comes out of your ears when you find a blueberry smashed into your carpet, or because you don't give your kid enough freedom to explore. There, feel better now? Me, too. Now go make yourself a margarita, you've earned it. Here's to a virtual toast. WAIT! Before we hit the button on that blender we had better Google whether drinking in front of our kids will positively or negatively affect their development....

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