I really don't know if Lynden has started the Terrible Two's or if it's jealousy of Alyssa and the attention she gets, but man oh man is he been a handful lately. From eating breakfast in the morning, playing, eating lunch, an attempt at naptime, biting, hitting, throwing, the fight at dinner time, getting him to stay in bed, and the ATTITUDE, oh the attitude.
Most parents I know seem to start their Terrible Two experience around 18 months, which seems to be when they start to determine their odd preferences to things. A friend of mine messaged me last night to tell me about her son, who is 18 months, freaking out when food doesn't make it into his mouth fully - if anything is touching his lips he screams until she pushes it into her son's mouth or else he'll spit the food out. Lynden used to get upset about any food touching his hands.
As most parents can tell anyone the "NO" stage is the start of it all. Then comes the "MINE" stage and somewhere the attitude kicks in. Lynden loves "no", but only when he says it. If we say "no" it's not uncommon for full on tears (must learn to cry on command so I can burst into tears when he says it). And his "no" is a mean one accompanied by the frown and the occasional finger pointing. I've even tried to stop telling him "no" in hopes he'll stop but no such luck yet. However, the no isn't as bad as the sassing and talking back - my son is quite rude at times. We just remind him, constantly, that he's not allowed to talk to us like that,to which he usually says "NO" which leads to time outs after enough warnings. I would love to know how much time a child spends in timeout from ages 2-5.
Some days it feels like I'm dealing with multiple personalities. Lynden will ask for cereal for breakfast only to refuse it once it's served to him. Or he'll ask to play doh only to get mad when it's all set up because he doesn't want to play with it. Or he begs me to go and play with his cousins next door only to get there, take off his boots and break into hysterics because he wants to go home. Or wants to watch Yo Gabba Gabba only to turn the TV off the moment it starts. WHY?!?!?
But I do have to chalk some of it up to jealousy towards his sister. She does take up a lot of attention that used to be his, but I try to involve him as much as I can. I try to read to him while I'm nursing and get him to help when I'm changing or bathing her and that seems to help sometimes. But 7/10 times he's got to go potty 30 seconds after I've started nursing (he knows he gets priority and I'll unlatch her to get him on the potty, although I don't always stay now that he's learned how to get off the potty himself). I know he loves her and he is so affectionate to her - he loves to hug and cuddle her, he hangs her toys back on her play mat when she pulls them off, and tells her "it's ok" when she's crying - but it doesn't stop him from walking up to her and biting her big toe or forehead or pushing her chair over while she's in it. Thankfully he hasn't hurt her more than the biting and he was more upset by the trouble he got in but he knows it's attention and any attention, good or bad, is attention.
Danny has been great with him when he's home and I'm busy, with Alyssa, dinner, laundry, etc. I don't know how people manage as a single parent with 2 kids. As it is during the day I can manage... most of the time, but I try to pre-plan my day so that I can schedule them on slightly different times (I'm not nursing Alyssa at noon when I make Lynden's lunch, try to plan nap time for around the same time) which helps eliminate the problem of them both desperately needing me at the same time. Most days I'm successful at it, but my saving grace is knowing that by 4 (most days) Danny's home and I have 4 hours of help before bedtime. For some reason those 4 hours are the hardest of the day, mainly because of the one dreaded meal of the day... Dinner!
What makes dinner so much different from the rest of the meals in the day? Lynden eats breakfast just fine, small snack in the late morning, 8/10 times eats lunch well, small snack in the mid afternoon and then chaos at dinner only to ask me for snacks between dinner and bedtime. I've now taken to not fighting it and just ask him "do you need to think about it?" to which he generally answers yes, so we let him down from the table and he goes and sits in his room until he's ready to eat without a fight - that's the theory anyways and everything works in theory. He usually comes back within 5 minutes, eats 3 or 4 good bites and then says "all done" to which we respond with airplanes, cars, trucks, choo choos, motor boats that all go into the tunnel and when those don't work we resort to plain & simple bribery. I think he's doing it just for the bribery now which is why I try to limit it as much as possible and will counter with "fine, but when you're hungry later you're getting supper". How I dread dinners with an almost 3 year old.
And then my favourite time of the day - Bedtime! 2 hours of semi-quiet time at the end of my day. I am so grateful that Lynden has gone back to staying in bed and sleeping instead of getting up every 15 seconds. One night I stood outside his room for 50 minutes (not kidding) and walked him back to bed every 15 seconds before I gave up and Danny took over. And now that Alyssa is getting her bedtime routine figured out she goes down around 8 as well, although she usually wakes up about an hour later for a rock or quick feed and then she's out again. But I can live with that over the alternative.
I'm sure in 10 years I'll be able to look back and see the humour in all this, assuming I'll be able to remember any of it, but for the moment it's a lot of deep breaths, warnings, time outs, and tears followed by hugs and cuddles when it's over.
Just think he'll be over the worst of it just in time for Round 2!