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Personal Reflections...
Shock & Awe...Living With A Toddler


I bet if you are a mother of a toddler you can relate to my latest dilemma with my two year old. Joey has decided he wants to refine the phrase "terrible two". If there were a degree to achieve in this category, Joey would be well on his way to becoming Dr. Joey, Terrible Two Specialist. He's not only going to refine the phrase, he's going to master it. Personally, I think the entire phrase is an understatement.

According to Webster's Dictionary, the definition of "terrible" is: "Adapted to excite fear, awe, or dread". It's almost a synonym for "shock and awe", which is the the title of a battle plan used by the National Defence. "Shock & Awe"...Well, I guess that's a polite way to describe my son. This is the same two-year-old son who chooses to drag his claws across my face in public simply because I've told him "no" to running into the street, saving him from getting hit by a car. This is the same two-year-old son who feels it is necessary to scream for 5 aisles of the grocery store simply because I won't allow him to turn a bushel of bananas into a baste for the grocery cart. This is the same two-year-old son who, much like a rabid dog, bites the hand that feeds it. This is the same two-year-old son I, despite all his "shock & awe", love with all of my heart.

As aggravated as I get with his outburst of anger, I really feel so sorry for my son. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for him. I really think the root of his anger stems from his inability to express himself as he wishes. Although he's making leaps and bounds with his vocabulary, it still falls short, in his world, of what he desires to achieve. He seems to understand far more than he is able to verbalize.

For example, on Tuesday night I took Joey to a local playground while we waited for my oldest DD to finish Volleyball practice at a near by gym.  Fifteen minutes of fun was quickly brought to a screeching halt when I had to tell Joey "no" for some mundane reason. God-forbid I try to keep him out of harm's way! Joey had a complete melt down on the playground, complete with kicking, screaming, scratching and tears. I picked him up and took him straight back to the car. Even though we could've had a lot more time to play, I didn't want to "reward" his tantrum.

I'm sure if he only had the vocabulary he desires, his voice would've been echoing across the playground "mom, how dare you deny me the chance to be the first and only person in line at the slide. Screw those other children waiting. The slide is mine, I tell you, MINE, MINE, MINE, MINE and the only person who matters in the world right now is ME, ME, ME ,ME ,ME ,ME..."

These days, Joey's English has its own translator: Body Language. And if that body language were translated, it would all be censored! He's just so angry lately.

Once we were back in the car, I talked with him about why we left the playground. I wasn't sure how much he understood, but since the mere mention of Bob The Builder has him break out into his own rendition of the theme song, I figured he might be able to understand some of my diatribe about "tantrums" and "behavior" as we drove away from the playground.

The next day, the weather was amazing and my oldest daughter, Breezy, and I were discussing aloud (within earshot of Joey) our plans for the afternoon. I suggested going to our local playground and suddenly Joey, whom we thought was absorbed in his bowl of oatmeal, began pleading his case for "playground rights of two year old tyrants". Joey said "No Hit Mommy. Me Sorry Mommy. Me Playground." Wow. He remembered. As he sat there flinging tiny blobs of oatmeal against the wall, he was remembering Mommy's lecture from the night before. He had been listening, as always.

The entire incident brought to my mind something I witnessed just last weekend as I was shopping with Breezy and Joey. We were walking through a store when we saw a Mom slapping her young daughter's wrist very hard while yelling "YOU DO NOT HIT YOUR SISTER". As Breezy and I pushed Joey passed her and out of the store, I turned to Breezy and commented, "Isn’t that just teaching her not to hit by hitting?" How does that prove a point?

When Joey was scratching and hitting me the night before as I was telling him "no" for some other reason on the playground, I'm glad I was able to refrain myself from hitting him back just to "show him how it feels". He actually made my face bleed with his unclipped fingernails! I'm glad I was able to stop and talk with him, because I really feel that is the root of his problem right now: He can't communicate the way he wants to. That must be frustrating for him and all his fellow toddlers. Although he does appear to have selective hearing, I'm glad he seems to be listening...because he remembered to say "sorry" and he remembered he hurt me.

Terrible Twos can be trying times, but they can also be terrific. This same two-year-old who tried to scar me with his nails last night because I went against his wishes, is also the same two-year-old boy who brought me a dandelion and a kiss this afternoon, just because he loves me. This same two-year-old boy curled up on my lap to nurse tonight telling me the "bees" (his name for mommy's breast milk) is better than chocolate milk. This is the same two-year-old son I, despite all his "shock & awe", continue to love with all of my heart.

Lauren Sue



Photos of Joey (at two years of age) taken by Mommy