January 6th, 2011


Terrifc Twos

I know I am tempting fate by saying so, but two and a half is an unexpectedly wonderful age. I did not expect to enjoy it nearly as much as I am.

The “terrible twos” have such a bad reputation. I’m not saying that Margaret does not have tantrums, she most certainly does. She will lay herself down on the ground, pillowing her head in her arms and weep bitter tears if you insist that it’s time to go when she really isn’t ready to move on. There is an adorable pathos to it that I would appreciate more if I weren’t also trying to buckle a wiggly boy into a stroller and maintain some sort of schedule. Luckily, the tantrums are not so frequent, and generally have as much to do with a need for food or sleep as anything else. When I have my act together enough to have a snack on hand when Margaret starts feeling hungry we generally have a pleasant time. Transitions can still be tricky, but I find that giving her warnings (we are leaving in five minutes), and explaining the plan beforehand are very helpful.

A bit of what is making Margaret particularly delightful right now is her increasing ability to communicate. She speaks in sentences fairly often, and will sometimes answer questions now. Mind you, I don’t always understand her. She still says things that are clearly words as far as she is concerned, but I have no idea what they mean. I generally assume in these cases that they are bona fide words in some language. I generally go with saying that Mommy doesn’t understand her. I figure that ten years from now she’ll be convinced that I’m too stupid to understand her, there’s really no reason to put off the inevitable. Margaret’s Chinese is really improving too. As far as I can tell she understands Mandarin reasonably well, and is certainly using some Chinese words. She also seems to grasp that there are two words that mean apple. Some things she only knows the Chinese word for, watermelon being the best example.

I love watching Margaret play with Duncan. They seem to mostly like each other. When Margaret is in the mood for it she will happily name all of Duncan’s body parts (except the eyes, which I am very firm about her not touching). Margaret will still push Duncan over if he annoys her, but we’re working on that and it’s getting better. We’re also still working on the concept of sharing, which is a lot harder. It’s tempting when Margaret snatches something away from Duncan to just take it away from her and return it, but I know that’s not the right thing to do as it’s actually modeling the incorrect “might makes right” behavior. I do a lot of talking with her about it, and trying to get her to give him something else, but progress on that front has been limited. To be truthful I’ve been focusing my efforts on keeping her from hurting Duncan, which I consider to be more immediately important. Good sharing skills are somewhat less important to me right now that the no-maiming-your-siblings concept.

Speaking of progress, potty training is moving forward. Margaret uses the potty for me at least once a day. I am trying to be a bit more proactive about suggesting that she go at likely times, and I’m just generally going with verbal praise as a reward. I’m pretty low-key about the whole thing, and if she doesn’t want to sit on the potty that’s just fine. She seems to be doing a fair amount of self-training. She generally knows when she needs a change, and more and more often she knows when she is about to go, though it is not much of a lead time for that, so I have to drop everything and get her onto the potty if I want her to use it. I’m liking the low-key approach, and she’s willing enough that I think she’ll be mostly trained by the time she’s actually physically ready for it. It’s pretty obvious that her voluntary control is still pretty limited, so even if I did everything I could to get her out of diapers right away I doubt it would be successful. I think we’re on the right path to getting her potty trained without making it a power-struggle issue.

I think the thing that is really delighting me about Margaret right now is that she is becoming a real companion for me. We can have something approaching a real conversation now. Her table manners have always been excellent for her age, and it’s truly a real pleasure to dine with her now. (She’s also pretty darn neat for 2.5, which really helps.) It keeps striking me lately that she is more and more a real little person, a beautiful little lady. I think partly this is because I can spend time with her now and not have it be all about me looking after her needs and keeping her entertained. We can actually spend some time enjoying things together, and that is huge. She is everything I ever wanted in a daughter and so much more.