I’m not sure who coined the phrase, and I do remember feeling challenged by No1 as she mastered running and climbing, talking and potty training (do I *really* have to potty train another child??? I barely survived round one). Challenged, but not driven to madness.
What no one tells you is that when toddlers turn three, a switch clicks and they develop free will. Or maybe they just recognize it for the useful tool that it is. Either way, that burgeoning independence makes for some heinous behavior. I’m talking screaming, explosive tantrums because a zipper is onlyhalfwayupandohmygoditmightfalldownfixitnow, and a loss of that “want to please you” innocence. It means arguing over how much water to drink before bedtime, every night. Even the smallest task is negotiated. The question “why” is not just reserved for the wonders of the world; now it is applied to every command and request made of your little psychopath. And you spend hours fixing hurt feelings instead of just bumps on the head.
It’s intense. And some days I feel like I’m failing.
And then No1 says, “hey, Mommy!” and makes me giggle with her sharp sense of humor mixed with a love of inappropriate noises. Her reasoning and debate skills blow me away. And I have to hide my pride when she writes her name in crayon on the windows while I’m busy with the baby, lest she think I’m impressed with window art instead of her beautiful letters. (Coolest milestone of this year, by the way.)
And suddenly I don’t feel like such a failure anymore. She’s a handful. But she’s absolutely amazing. Bright, devious, joyful, kind. We’re doing just fine.