The terrible two’s are a myth.
I’m more apt to call them the testimonial two’s. Gabe has discovered the concept of “I” and isn’t planning to let it go. This will serve him well as he starts to step out of his big brother’s shadow and into his own sense of self.
Of course, during this time, he will be cute, adorable, and somewhat malleable. We will be lulled into thinking that our boy is the miracle child who has skipped the terrible two’s…until we remember that we thought the same of Nick until the day after his third birthday.
Then all hell broke loose.
The newly discovered “I” transformed into the great-and-powerful EGO who relished the power of NO! and limp-bone tantrums. This means that some time in February, our house will be taken over by a screaming howler monkey and we will count the days until the promised land of 4…no wait…5…uh, guess it’s 6…?
Why does the promised land keep relocating?
Like Carol Burnett, we’ll be glad we had this time together – at two – as we watch his burgeoning independence grow. We’ll smile indulgently as he concentrates on buckling his own seat belt while our backs are soaked with rain.
“Almost got it, sweetie? Nana’s getting a little wet…OK, let’s try again…you have to push the button harder.”
And hold our breath as he navigates the back stairwell without us spotting him.
“The railing, Gabe. No, don’t turn around to look at me. Look at the railing. Now use it.”
His latest quest for independence? Pouring his own milk.
As a self-avowed neat freak – I believe in owning my neuroses – this is the one I have struggled with the most. “Art” in our family, is done in a clearly defined space – with a drop cloth…and washable paints…in old shirts with holes.
Yup, a controlled environment where free creative expression can run wild…for a reasonable amount of time.
Thank goodness our artist friend, Jill, has invited Gabe to paint at her studio, where every surface is a potential canvas and every medium fair game – charcoal, pencils, body paint – whatever you need for as long as you like. It really does take a village – even when the villagers are convinced you need to take the pipe out of your bum.
This morning, as I started to pour his milk, Gabe objected.
“I do it.”
I immediately started with my own objection. “Well, hon, it’s heavy, which can be tricky. So I think – “
Gabe stilled my arm with his tiny hand and pinned me with a steady, unblinking gaze.
“I big boy.”
Yes, that’s what we tell him, when he goes potty in the toilet instead of his pullup, or brushes his teeth instead of his arm.
“Who’s a big boy?! Gabe is!!”
So I held my breath as his shaky hands balanced the full carton of almond milk. He wouldn’t let me spot him, or hold the bowl closer to the carton’s spout.
Does he know when to stop pouring….oh man, I soooo don’t want to clean this up. Do I just take it from him…?
If he were on The Price Is Right, he would have spun the wheel, because while Gabe came perilously close, he did not go over.
“Good job, Gabe!”
He lifted his spoon and smiled.
“I big boy.”