Monday, June 18, 2007

It Ain't Easy Being Two

So, I was reading Anna, Clara and Me today and I wanted to pass it on for discussion. I thought all of it, and especially this excerpt, was so right-on, so exactly what I'm always secretly thinking when I watch little kids play together and listen to their parents harp, with varying degrees of patience, about the merits of sharing and using their words.

I wonder, though. Maybe we — that is, I — ask too much from our kids.

I might sound like one of those parents people who always makes excuses for their children — "helicopter parents," I think they're called — but, whose emotions wouldn't be overwhelmed in a situation like that? Who wouldn't want to scream?

Right now I'm lying on the couch, typing on my laptop. If some Annoying Person bounded over and started typing on the laptop, too, how would I feel? Mad. Also shocked, brutalized, maybe out of control. I doubt I'd be polite.

Now take it a step further. Suppose Dan saw the whole thing and said, "Evonne, calm down and use your words. And, how about let's take turns? First Evonne can have the laptop for two minutes, and then Annoying Person can have it for two minutes. I'll set the timer."

At that point, I'd probably slam the laptop closed and stomp off.

I think we — that is, I — forget how bad childhood can feel sometimes. Oh, I know, I know, childhood is exuberant and magical and wonderful and great, but it can also be frustrating and irritating and scary and confusing and humiliating.

And being surrounded by kids — even if you're a kid, too — is part of the pain. Kids are vicious and intrusive. They're constantly grabbing things. No wonder Anna clutches her snack to her chest when we're in public. "Don't worry," I want to say. "No one wants your soggy mess of a stale pretzel." But in her reality, they do.

Is this not so true? It's so easy to hear a kid scream in anger when a younger child takes their toy and feel an urge to respond sharply- "Now hey, play nice, so and so's just a baby!" But really, isn't a two year pretty much a baby, too, in the scheme of things? So little impulse control- so little control over anything, really- but such huge curiosities and desires.
It is both a beautiful and heartbreaking thing to watch a toddler crash around, her emotions running the gamut from delight to devastation all before her morning bath. Towards Adelay I often feel both envy and pity in this regard. To feel so deeply about everything- how wonderful! I will muse. And also, how truly awful!
How does everyone else feel about the sharing thing? How do you handle toy/snack/attention disputes in your home, especially when happening between two relatively young children?


Swistle said...

This morning Henry (age 2.5 weeks) and Elizabeth (age 2 years) were both screaming really, really loud, and I found that I was frustrated and upset with HER, but not with HIM--and yet, as you say, a 2-year-old is ALSO a baby. Furthermore, she's the one dealing with the fact that there is someone else screaming for my attention!

Devan said...

That was a very good entry. It's hard sometimes to remember that a 2 year old is also a baby. Her point about public attention and perception is right on.
I try to remember what it's like to be a kid, especially parts of my life that I really hated. But the older I get, the harder it is to remember. *sigh*
I loved your analogy about the laptop and annoying person.

jen said...

I deal with it by letting them work it out. Oh, it gets loud... I tell them to work it out or I'll take it away. They are babies, yes, but don't doubt for a minute, they totally understand me. Maybe not able to do it yet, but t hey know.

I see my son going to smack the crap out of his sister, and she totally has it coming, and then I see him restrain himself.. all without me interfering. Then I praise him :) He's not even 2.

I think people are just afraid of when little kids settle disputes so LOUDLY. But that's how they do it.

Oh, and take your example with the laptop - Why should I have to s hare just because someone came up and violated my personal space? That's rewarding that behavior! I always guide them to give it back to who had it first. We're starting to get into sticky messes here becuase I'll contradict that when one toy is "hers" or "his" (we previously only had "toys" but as they get older they get their own. aarg!)

sorry about the novel heh.