It’s all so eerily familiar. At age 2 ½, little Owen is coming down with a case of the terrible twos. A few years back, Will was a little sicker with the terrible’s, I’d say -- a little more distraught at the fact that I had to buckle his seat belt for example and a little more likely to cry about it for 30 minutes instead of Owen’s five minute maximum. But Owen is breaking out the screaming fits for little things here and there – having to wear shoes in to preschool, not getting to pour more oatmeal into the pot for cooking and the list goes on and on. He’ll lie on the floor and start to kick and scream and get red-faced. But this time around it feels much easier for me to remain calm and aloof.
I remember, back in the worst of Will’s tantruming days, reading Harvey Karp’s advice (from “The Happiest Toddler On The Block”) for mirroring your toddler’s frustration by getting down on their level and trying to vocalize their frustrations with the same level of rage they seem to be feeling (“Owen is mad, mad, mad…. Owen wants to…..” hitting fists on floor for emphasis. Then following up with a more soft-spoken explanation of why they can’t have the thing that you totally understand that they want.) It never worked with Will, and with Owen I’ve never even bothered to get down to that furious, primal, power-hungry level.
It’s so much easier for me to just recognize that this will pass, and remain calm and unaffected by Owen’s frustration, to give him less of an audience for it. Sometimes I cart him off to his room and ask him to come out when he’s feeling ready to be happy with us (typically he follows me out once or twice in tears, so he has to be returned to his calming place a couple times before he decides to stay and calm down). All in all, I’m thinking if this is as terrible as the twos gets, it will all be very survivable. But if you see me calmly carrying a screaming, red-faced kid in the parking lot, you’ll know what we’re up to.