We are approaching Gavin’s second birthday at the end of October and I couldn’t find myself any more…well, relieved. I hate to admit it, but I have secretly dreaded Gavin’s “Terrible Twos” ever since I became a pediatrician. I’ve experienced many office visits with screaming 18 month-olds or 2 year-olds who just won’t let you touch them without a marathon work out. It’s not that I blame them. By that age they have associated the exam room with intrusions into their ears and the white-paper-donned table with shots. I just wish their little brains could understand how much easier it would all go if they would just stop screaming and cooperate. As I have gained experience I’ve come to just laugh at them and reassure their parents that almost all toddlers make me work so hard. But as a mother, having witnessed so many toddlers in this state of fear, I worried I would have a hard time handling this age.
A year ago I actually mentioned my concern to one of my patients. Their extremely adorable 2-year-old had exhausted us both. After offering many tickles, tricks and prizes she finally let me listen to her heart. When I admitted my fear the father looked me directly in the eyes and said, “actually, it’s a great age.” I thanked him for his reassurance but had my doubts. I’m great at cuddling, mending booboos, reading books, and playing but was not sure how I would handle his fits in public or refusal to do anything I ask. Now that Gavin is almost two I have to agree with that father. This really is such a great age. He is talking so much. It is truly amazing to learn what his brain is thinking about. He begs me to “sit and play mommy,” I laugh so hard when he makes monkey noises while he eating a banana, and he knows how to get under his father’s skin by telling him “no dada, my momma” when Cody tries to give me a kiss. I could go on and on about all the things he does that make my heart melt and belly chuckle.
It’s not that we haven’t had our behavior issues. Gavin refuses to sit down with us for dinner pretty much every night. I take that back. He will sit with us long enough to pray, take a bite or two, and then announce he’s ready to play. He often gets mad at me for taking too long to eat announcing, “momma come play outside!!!!!!” And going out to eat is just not an option for us right now. The child does not like to sit still and he just doesn’t care that much about food. I know these are common toddler behaviors, but as a foodie and a strong believer in the family dinner, it drives me crazy! I really can’t wait until he enjoys eating, talking and trying new food like we do. And then there was a rash of pulling my hair, biting me, and hitting me that started around 15-months. I distinctly remember him holding his sippy cup up to the light to see I gave him water instead of juice and then throwing it in my face. After implementing time out for such dreaded behaviors, however, he quickly stopped. Making my little monkey sit still for 1 minute was so devastating to him that he quickly learned to accept my limits. We have had a few tantrums requiring us to carry him out to the car from a public place. But it really hasn’t bothered me like I thought it would. I could care less that he can be disruptive in public; I’m so concerned with teaching him good behavior that it doesn’t even occur to me to be embarrassed.
So here I am with a 2 year-old and I’m absolutely loving it. I’m shocked how much fun we are having and how little frustration I feel about the tantrums, the need for the time-out timer, and his love of the word “no.”
And I guess you could say we are having so much fun that we decided to have another one! I’m happy to announce we have a little girl coming at the end of February. Gavin will be 28 months-old when she arrives. Right now he seems to be excited about his little sister. He randomly kisses my belly saying, “my baby sister.” He covers my belly saying night-night. And in his typically possessive fashion he tells his father, “no, my baby” whenever Cody approaches my belly. I’ve decided not to think about how hard it will be for him to share his parents once she arrives. I secretly dread this major developmental step for him. But maybe he will surprise me again!