The Wonder Years as in…I Wonder How I Will Get Through Them

Terrible Twos. You hear about it, you laugh about it, but unless you are a parent of a toddler, you probably haven’t cried about it.

I visited a Children’s Museum recently with my 2-year old. Well, I kind of visited. We made it as far as the front door, then my little angel had a melt down for NO. APPARENT. REASON. That happens a lot these days. I keep thinking…. What in the hell am I doing wrong? All of these other parents and well-behaved tots are passing us by, throwing either looks of pity (rare) or disdain (more common).

I got to thinking…we have to take classes to operate a motor vehicle, but we don’t have much professional guidance when it comes to raising a human being. Where do we learn the best methods of not screwing our kids up and preserving a modicum of sanity?

I realized that so far, my most valuable advice has come from family and friends- not the pediatrician whom I see once a year for about 15 minutes while she offhandedly dismisses my on-the-verge-of-tears questions. I am not afraid to admit that I am a bit terrified about the prospect of handling TWO of these enigmas, much less one.

I get by with a little help from my friends, and here is a sample of what they have taught me:

From Kara, I learned that I shouldn’t sleep on my back when I am in the later months of pregnancy. Seriously, no one told me this. Didn’t my OB think it was important to tell me?! Thanks K for cluing me in and helping me not cut off all life support to my unborn kid or whatever happens.

From Wendy, I learned the importance of getting your baby on a nighttime routine as soon as possible. Bath, books, bed. Because of her (and Dr. Weissbluth), my little guy went from sleeping 3 hours at a time to sleeping 8+. Thanks Wendy for keeping me from turning into a total zombie.

From Lisa, I learned that verbalizing expectations to your children makes a world of difference. Outlining clear-cut behaviors that are acceptable (and unacceptable) can truly be a game changer. Thanks Lisa for helping me derail more than a handful of potentially messy situations.

From my sister Amy, I learned about the Naughty Mat. I wasn’t so pleased when I learned it- she decided to introduce this Supernanny form of discipline to her 2-year old when I was pregnant and had a migraine. If anyone has tried this with a…willful child, you know that the first time could involve dozens of screaming returns to the mat. Thanks Amy for demonstrating the patience it takes to discipline a toddler.

From my mom, I learned that kids are just that: kids. Every time I turn to her with tears in my eyes after my son throws a tantrum (AGAIN), she reminds me that it is part of the process and it won’t always be this tough. He’s learning, even though it just feels like he’s schooling me. Thanks mom for  keeping my confidence level from hitting record lows.

From my son, I truly learned the meaning of unconditional love. Sweetie, after the 6th trip to the Naughty Mat that day, I had enough love in my heart to sing that extra song to you that night. You then proceeded to sing Twinkle, Twinkle all on your own for the first time. Damn, you’re good. Well played, kid, well played.