Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Terrible 2(0)s

Do you know our friends Nate and Andrea and Kayla and Chase Millheim? They're a wonderful bunch. They practically live down the street from us here in Bernal Heights (our neighborhood in San Francisco).

It's always nice to get to spend some time with them.

Their daughter (the older of the two children), Kayla, is in what they affectionately refer to as her "terrible twos". Wikipedia describes this stage...

The toddler's positive and negative feelings are focused on the same person and become visible (known as the 'terrible twos'). The child is in conflict: wishing both to be independent and to retain the complete devotion of the mother. In this stage, ambivalence is considered to be normal.

I tend to think that my twenties were a bit like that. I wanted to shed everything...while maintaining some sort of lifeline to whatever "mother" was at play...the church, my national identity, family heritage, etc.

The thing about toddlers in this stage (as perhaps Nate or Andrea–or other parents–can confirm) is that they test boundaries. And this is healthy. For how is a child to know what is good and healthy or bad and unhealthy if not to see for themselves? Certainly there is something to wisdom of parents, but a child has to experience for themselves the effects of pushing mommy too far...or seeing just how far he can run before daddy tells him to stop. You know what I mean? (Or am I off here?)

I think it's important to shed our youthful skin in our twenties, test the boundaries, push ourselves, challenge anything (and perhaps everything). But think of the havoc we (I) wreak on others during our terrible twenties. Just think.

I could apologize (and perhaps should), but I'll hold off on that as I think that it's an appropriate developmental phase that ought to be embraced, ought to be learned from, not apologized for...kinda like Kayla learning that when she interrupts her dad, he'll kindly say, "Kayla, I'm talking to Ryan right now."

And perhaps she serves as a reminder to us, calling us back to curiosity, asking "Why?" incessantly, pushing ourselves and those around us to really consider what life is made of.

1 comment:

Russ said...

Ah yes... we know about the terrible 2s. We have been there, done that x 5. The parallel between our 2s and 20s is interesting... both stages of life where we are working through challenging issues of separation and identity. Amanda and I have recently been musing about what seems to be the common method of our generation and younger when it comes to dealing with our young children, including 2 year olds. To us, it seems like someone must have written a book at some point that we missed, instructing our fellow gen-x and y peers to let their children run around like wild animals. Well... I'm exaggerating of course, but we are continually baffled at what we see and wonder what these kids will be like when they are in their 20s and the boundaries being tested go to deeper and more life-altering issues. Perhaps many of us feel like we were discouraged from boundary testing in our 20s, so we don't want to make the same mistake with our kids... only we are applying it to our 2 year olds. And, there is a difference. Your thoughts on the need for boundary testing are spot-on. It is natural and it is good. But, in the case of the 2 year old, the lesson that needs to be learned is that there are boundaries. I fear that many of our young children today are testing for boundaries and discovering that there aren't any. Or, that there are but they are so weakly enforced as to be practically irrelevant. I wonder how this lesson will effect them in their 20s?

Just an added note to the strength of your comparison. The thing about 2 year olds is that they don't know squat, aside from what they want and what they think will make them happy, but they think they know everything and that they should get to be the boss. I mean... 20 year olds... no, I mean 2 year olds... ;-)