Dictionary.com defines the Terrible Twos as, “a state of development in which toddler behavior is a particular challenge.” This, I believe, is the greatest understatement of all-time. Bath time is a particular challenge. Getting the boys to leave their socks on is a particular challenge. The terrible twos are, and I say this without the slightest hint of hyperbole, the greatest existential challenge to parental sanity mankind has ever faced.
Did I use ‘existential’ correctly there? I have no idea. Thinking isn’t my strong suit these days. Linus, who turned two last May, has finally reached the terrible part of his second year. Wait, I think technically this is his third year. Whatever, like I said, I can’t think straight anymore, and it’s all because my oldest son can go from sweet boy to screaming maniac in less than three seconds.
It happened today, just after lunch. He somehow got past the rickety gate that is supposed to keep him out of our kitchen, and he brought me a sippy cup and the buttermilk from the fridge.
“More milk,” he said, holding up his cup and the buttermilk.
“You don’t want buttermilk,” I said, and proceeded to pour him a glass of regular milk. But when I handed him the cup, and he realized I had not poured him a glass of buttermilk, he dropped to the floor and began banging his hand and feet in the most stereotypical tantrum of all time. I stepped over him and left him there in the floor, but when he realized I’d left the room he followed me into the den, where he proceeded to drop to the floor and resume his tantrum.
Life with these tantrums — and he throws on every 17 minutes on average — does not seem sustainable, so I went to the Internet seeking advice on how to cope with the terrible twos.
The first thing I read was that it’s important for parents to remain calm and keep their emotions in check. I wish I’d read that sooner, because earlier today during a tantrum I literally rolled myself into a ball and covered my ears until Linus got confused and left the room.
Another site says provide your child a snack, but the majority of Linus’ outburst are over snacks and drinks we refuse to give him, like a big sippy cup full of buttermilk. And besides, this advice is counter to another website that said do not give in to the tantrums because it will only reinforce the notion that bad behavior will gets you what you want, which actually does explain the last presidential debate I saw, but that doesn’t help me much with Linus.
I’m starting to think none of these websites know what they are talking about. If people really knew how to deal with the terrible twos there wouldn’t be terrible twos anymore. No, when it comes to the terrible twos I think we parents just have to get by anyway we can. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go pour my son a glass of buttermilk.
Chad Gibbs resides in Auburn and is the author of “God & Football,” “Love Thy Rival” and “Jesus Without Borders.” To learn more about Gibbs’ projects and to purchase his books, visit chadgibbs.com.