The “Capital – T” Twos

There are certain inevitable questions in one’s life.  When you have been dating someone a long time, everyone you know will ask “Do you think you’re going to get married?”  Once you marry said individual, everyone (and particularly your parents) starts asking “When do you think you’ll try to start having kids?”  And once you have said kids, and said kids pass the 24-month mark, everyone (including strangers in the elevator) will ask “How are the Terrible Twos going so far?”  Um, awesome, thanks.  Hence the term Terrible Twos.

Who came up with this term?  I, for one, don’t like it.  Babyman is challenging, but he isn’t terrible.  In fact, challenging is exactly what he’s supposed to be right now.  He’s becoming a little person (a sometimes cranky and belligerent person, it appears, prone to sudden mood swings and unanticipated spells of matchbox car throwing, but a person nonetheless).

So I am starting a movement to rename this phase of development: the Testing Twos.  You could also call them the Trying Twos.  Or, during certain weeks, the Tantrum Twos…but let’s try to keep it positive, shall we?

I personally like the Testing Twos because there something highly empirical about Babyman’s behavior of late.  Here is an example that recently occurred over a week’s worth of dinners:

1. Observation Phase: The other weekend we attended a full-day party in the wine country celebrating my sister’s (Babyman’s beloved auntie’s) wedding.  It was like an episode of This is Your Life and needless to say, totally over-stimulating for Babyman.  Upon our return home, Babyman had a meltdown of epic proportions, leading to much empathetic rocking and cooing and soothing by me and my husband until finally he went to sleep.

2. Hypothesis Phase: Have meltdown, get attention.

3. Testing Phase: The next evening, when it came time to wash Babyman’s hands for dinner, he hurled himself onto the floor and re-enacted the meltdown from the night before.  Quite at a loss (and wondering if this was some kind of over-stimulation hangover from the weekend), my husband and I pulled out every trick in the book to try to calm him down.  But we couldn’t help noticing that this time around, he was easily distracted from his tears and seemed to oscillate wildly between happy chirping and sobbing hysterically.  In short, he was turning it on and off.  Hmmmmm.

4. Conclusion Phase: Day three, he tried it again.  My husband and I agreed at that point that the whole thing had become a game, so at the first sign of tears we took him back to his room and explained that when he calmed down we would love to enjoy dinner with him.  Within seconds he came scooting out to the livingroom, calling “I’m ready to try again, daddy!”  This last phase repeated itself two more times in the next few days.

Yes, just like Fleming and Newton before him, Babyman is trying to understand how the world works — specifically, by testing his parents at every available opportunity (“What if I run away, mommy?”; “Should I throw this, mommy?”).   So for me, it’s the Testing Twos all the way.  And for all the strangers out there, quit calling my kid terrible.

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