We became grandparents of five grandchildren all in the same year! My son married a lady that had three children and he already had one. Together they had one. The ages are 4 months (why he’s “practically perfect in every way”), 5 years (the drama queen), 7 years, (Spiderman, Batman and Darth Vader all rolled up into one), 11 years, (my preteen and all that goes with that) and then there is Elijah. Elijah is two-years-old and feeling every minute of it. Elijah was such a little darling about 12 or 14 months ago. He was all cuddly, playful and loving. Then something happened. He turned two. And I turned old…very old. I thought about other grandparents (and parents) that are dealing with this “terrible-two” age group. There had to be some way to make the transition through this two-year-old year easier.
The first step, I found, is understanding the personality of the child. Elijah was very hard to understand, I thought, and very hard-headed. Actually, he became the most stubborn child I had ever met! I found myself losing the battle to devise a plan to conquer this two-foot-high “mountain of resistance” but I was determined to ‘climb to the top.” Last week he and two of his siblings came to stay with me and “Pop Pop” for a few days. When my son asked “for how long, Mama?” I just said, “Son, we’ll take it day by day. I’ll call you.” By the end of the week I was really beginning to understand this new Elijah and he was beginning to “put up” with me.
Elijah is an independent soul. He loves to explore, give hugs and run ahead of me…sometimes way ahead. However, there were times when he wanted to cling, hold my hand and, at times, be held-but never for long. Independence verses babyhood. What a combination! Telling him not to run was a waste of breath, even when he fell and cried. And then, telling him to come to you if he wasn’t in the mood was a joke. I learned a valuable lesson during our time together. If I got down on his eye level, looked him in the face, smiled (no matter how frustrated I was) and “suggested” instead of demanded, the results were amazing. Now he was being given attention and a choice and he would usually choose to obey.
The next thing I learned is that you can “lead a horse to food but you can’t make him eat.” Elijah loves to eat but he wanted his desert first. If he had an inkling that “a goodie” was coming, meat and veggies were to be ignored…ignored to the point of his sliding down off the chair and sitting on the floor or wherever we were. He howled as I dragged him out of the church fellowship hall and down to the nursery where he pouted the rest of the evening. His big sister didn’t know about the behavior, and that I was determined he was not getting any dessert (or supper for that matter), and gave him TWO doughnuts during snack time. Needless to say, I lost that one. Since then, however, Elijah and I have begun to come to an understanding of dessert. It can be eaten other than at the very end of the meal! Imagine that! It can be eaten in parts. One part if you eat a few bites of your meat. Another part if you down a few carrots and the rest if you munch on your roll! Parent and grandparents and babysitters of all ages, this really works! Compromise is the word of the day here. I gave, he gave and we both won that game in the end.
Next we played the “potty” game. Elijah knows just as good how to use the potty and even when he NEEDS to use the potty. But he just doesn’t want to. Now this was a battle of the wills if there ever was one. I learned that he did very well when I went into the bathroom with him and sat on the side of the tub for the “performance”. But if I forgot and didn’t take him on time, oh well! He made some progress during the week and we didn’t fight about this issue. I just praised and applauded and cleaned him up when necessary. The advice here is: don’t sweat it. When he does well-great! When he doesn’t-don’t go off the deep end. He’ll learn.
My little man loves his snacks…and snacks…and more snacks. So I made him the healthy kind…cooked carrots with cinnamon and a touch of sugar, celery and peanut butter with raisins, low-sugar applesauce or apple slices and cheese. These finger foods are things most two-year-olds will enjoy. No problems here. If some of these foods are not pleasing to your two-year-old there are many more healthy choices out there. Don’t give in to the “easy” way, like pulling a cookie out of the box. Sugar is not a good choice for a two-year-old with energy that last way past your bedtime.
Bedtime was our stalemate. We did playtime in a warm bath. We did “ok, it’s time to go to bed now” and even “see, sister is going to bed, too.” But Elijah had other plans. Well at the end of the day, Nana is tired, cranky, and to say the least, I was ready to put my feet up. This combination does not make for a good bedtime. Nothing worked really well but a couple of things helped. When the grandkids come, the smallest ones have their own sleeping bags. I got Elijah his favorite one…”Cars.” I also allowed him to take his storybook Bible to bed with him and his favorite “blankie.” Although these helped, he still was resistant to lying down. Many times “Pop Pop” had to step in. He responded much better to this strong, manly tone. Once we got him to lie down, he went to sleep. I found that if I let him run and play outside or on my back porch with his toys near the end of the day just before coming inside for supper, he would be more tired as bedtime approached. I tried this for several days and as the week progressed, bedtime got easier. It may not work for every two-year-old, but, as I said, the key is understanding your two-year-old. Sometimes it’s simply trial and error.
I know that Elijah and I understand each other better after our week together. He knows I love and care about him and I know that being a two-year-old is both a challenge for the child and the grandparents and parents. Trying knew ideas through games and different approaches can help get you and your two-year-old through this stage of growing up.