Colloquialisms abound in the world of parenting. One of the more common is the term “terrible twos.” This popular expression serves as a harbinger for parents who have not yet experienced having a child between the ages of 2 and 3. The phrase signifies a stage in childhood development characterized by unpredictable toddler-esque rage and whimsy. The terrible twos is supposed to be a trying time for a new parent. One where the only thing more welcoming than pacifying your enraged and capricious youngling is perhaps the sweet release of death.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about being a new parent is how the actual act of parenting never really gets any easier. It changes over time, but as it changes it only promulgates itself in new, innovative challenges. In order to survive, parents have to be evolutionary and adapt…much like the marine iguana of Fernandina. Unfortunately, also very much like the marine iguana, the blood of an evolutionary parent wears thin quickly until eventually their muscles seize up and they lay incapacitated in a fetal state, unable to move until that which tortures them most is neutralized. For the iguana, it is the cold of the icy Pacific. For the parent, it is the tiny human.
The terrible twos is to a parent what the frigid Pacific is to a marine iguana. It is an inconvenient and annoying feature but it is a function of an unchangeable environment and thus must be adapted to. It is in such a way that the parent can use the rationale that this inalterable circumstance is ceaseless and thereby create the perception that the terrible twos aren’t necessarily “terrible,” they are just weird. When viewed through a filter of eccentricity, it is plausible to underscore the sheer outlandishness of what two-years-olds will do or say or request. Most requests are odd things that no human would ever think are important to daily life, yet become of paramount importance to a two-year-old…things like demanding a bowl of strawberries each night right before bed or refusing to ride in the car unless there is a large shovel present on the adjacent seat.
It is odd behaviors and bizarre requests that are perceived as unimportant by the parent that in reality, are of immense importance to the “terrible two-year-old.” These items, viewed as meaningless and ultimately denied, are usually what ignite the unbridled hostility in the two-year-old and eventually send the parent into a painful state of muscle seizures and immobilized affection. The weird requests of a two-year-old is the proverbial “icy Pacific” in the parenting world. It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to identify the potential for a flare-up in toddler rage and yet somehow we continue to blame the developing child for their moments of inevitable insanity. It’s the equivalent of a marine iguana attempting to warm the ocean with blow dryer. Not only is this an impossible task, but the iguana lacks hands and electricity…and a local Walmart. Yet somehow they thrive without labeling the ocean as terrible, because no matter how dangerous and unpredictable, the iguana knows that its survival is predicated on the very thing that can destroy it.