Training up a toddler is tricky business.
And I use the phrase “training up” very intentionally, because that’s exactly what we’re doing– training him in How to Be a Good Human Being. There are no Cliff Notes, and you can’t copy off of anyone else because we all have a slightly different version of the assignment. It’s basically a lab where it certainly helps to have read the textbook, but there’s still a pretty good chance something is going to catch on fire and knowing the location of the closest fire extinguisher is key.
Nothing has caught on fire yet over here, but it’s still pretty early in the day.
Now that Landon is two (going on fifteen), we’re working really hard to train him in the ways he reacts and handles his feelings. The whole thing makes me a little nervous, to be honest. The things we teach him now are what will shape the way he acts years down the road. For the rest of his life. Heavy? Heavy. Anyone who has been around a toddler for more than five seconds knows that they are naturally impatient and temperamental, and I’d rather him not be those things when he’s 25 and driving on the beltway.
Yesterday, we were making cookies together, and waiting for the cookies to bake was probably the most stressful eight minutes of his day. Pleas of “Ma cookies now, Mommy?!” were accompanied by the most dramatic refusedtotakeanaptoday tears. In true toddler fashion, he repeated, “Ma cookies now?!” about eighty-two times before I finally gathered the patience to take his chubby little hands and talk him down from the cliff.
“I know you’re upset because you want to eat your cookies, but let’s try to be thankful instead of upset.”
As I spoke those words, I realized they were more for me than for him. Funny how that works, sometimes. I’m pretty sure that toddlers were designed to be difficult because all of the lessons we’re teaching them for the first time are ones that we could do to be reminded of ourselves. Instead of being upset that we have to wait for the cookies to bake, try to be thankful that we’ll get to eat them later.
Instead of complaining about feeling tired and whale-like, try to be thankful that we’re able to have kids.
Instead of being overwhelmed by work, try to be thankful that I have a job.
Instead of being stressed by finances, try to be thankful for what we have.
A few months ago, our pastor shared these words and they stuck with me, because that’s really what it comes down to, isn’t it? The way you choose to look at things shapes everything else. All week long, I’ve let all of the stuff get to me, and by the weekend, I felt pretty under it. Grouchy, impatient, and lacking. As soon as I stopped to choose thankfulness over tired and whale-like and overwhelmed and stressed, it was a totally different ball game.
So I guess I owe my Terrible Two a thank you. You’re impatient and strong-willed and temperamental, but aren’t we all sometimes? And I know that it’s going to be a long time before these lessons actually sink in– we’ve navigated roughly six(teen) meltdowns today and it’s not even two o’clock.
But for every time you’re impatient, we have the opportunity to practice patience together. For every time you throw a temper tantrum, we have the opportunity to work on self-control. And as long as we continue to tackle things with this perspective, chances are I might only be half gray by the time you have a Terrible Two of your own.