"Wait," you might say. "Your son isn't quite two yet." Well, yes he is. Even though his birthday is just under two weeks away, I've been considering him Two on the behavioral front since he started getting more willful and stubborn, about a month or six weeks ago.
Stubborn and Willful are what the Terrible Twos are known for, after all. But really, it isn't that bad. Yes, we've had some crazy days where I've been tempted to drive to my husband's work, hand my husband his son, boot my husband out of his cubicle and take his place, even though I don't know the first thing about the systems he supports. Or simply hand my husband his son at any time of day and run screaming for the wilderness without stopping to look back. But let's face it, I've had occasional days like that since the beginning. They come in waves, but as long as I do take time to myself after hubby gets home, I'm usually fortified for the next encounter.
But despite the fact that my son always wants to do things His Way right now, I think this is a wonderful age. He's starting to show empathy (he recognizes when other people--or stuffed animals--are hurt and will comfort them), his cognition is growing by leaps and bounds, his language skills keep expanding, he's joyous, inquisitive, he's developing a sense of humor, and his personality is blossoming left and right. I love watching him concentrate as he tries to figure something out, I smile at the joy he experiences when he learns something new, and I take pride in each accomplishment even though it brings a pang that he needs me just that little bit less.
We've even managed to keep his misbehavior relatively low because I'm learning how to work around it. His tantrums don't last for very long, but that's because I ignore them (I've been ignoring them since they started) so mostly I think he does them to blow off steam rather than out of any expectation that he'll get something from them. And when it comes to tantrum triggers, I do my best to avoid them if I can. I try to give him warnings when we're about to end something fun, I give him options so he has some choice in what we do, I look for ways he can help me with a task when it's keeping me from playing with him ("can you put the salad dressing on the table for me, sweetie?"), and I strive to find better ways to say things (instead of "you need to put your airplane away" I'll say "can you show me where your airplane belongs?") I've started just trying to put his pullup on before bed so using the toilet can be his idea instead of my suggestion.
Yes, we still butt heads. Yes, I still have to discipline him, take toys away when they don't get put away, put him in Time Out (we call it "exile"), raise my voice or pick him up to make him do something, but mostly we've figured out how to get through the day with the fewest speed bumps. And as I said before, I love watching him explore his world, especially at this age when he's so interactive. I know a day will come when I'm no longer the sun in the center of his universe (me and his daddy) and I want to enjoy this time.
What I'm looking most forward to is more language breakthroughs. A month of two ago he figured out the two-word sentence, and I can't wait for the next step. I'm looking forward to having actual conversations with him. To find out what's on his mind beyond pointing and naming all the objects he knows. To find out what his favorite color is rather than just guessing based on what crayons he uses most. To find out what he dreams about. To find out what he's scared of. He's my son, and I want to know, and I know he's only one or two language milestones away from being able to tell me.
Until I can, I'll just go on enjoying the wonderful child he has become. I can't wait to see how he reacts to the overstimulation of a birthday party and whether he'll be bold or shy during Trick-Or-Treating. Two really is a beautiful age.