unless YOU want me to. I am starting to think this is the 2-year old anthem. I know we went through this with Isaac. I know we did, and it was hard. But it was easier with Isaac than with Matthew because we knew him. Inside and out, and we knew when he was just tired and frustrated, or if he was truly scared or afraid, or if he was just drawing a line in the sand to test us. We are still guessing at a lot of this with Matthew, but it is starting to get easier to figure out where he is coming from with his frequent tantrums. Tired and frustrated does happen–mostly first thing in the morning or right after a nap. He doesn’t have problems close to naptime or bedtime like Isaac tends to. It just takes him a LONG time to be civil to anyone when he first wakes up. I have definitely learned to identify when he is scared of something. Again, that doesn’t happen too often, but his reaction is definite: he simply removes himself from the situation. Which leaves me with the most trying one: the drawing of the line in the sand, the testing us, the daring us to cross him. Oh, how I do not enjoy this part of age 2.
Yesterday was our first morning of Water Babies class. It is kind of like pre-swimming lessons, but it is more about getting infants and toddlers comfortable in the water and teaching them the basics of swimming, along with water safety. Isaac has taken this class many times and is probably ready for actual swim lessons, but we thought we would keep him in this class for Matthew’s benefit.
Let’s just say it did not go well. I should say that it STARTED well. Matthew was thrilled to be there, happy about everything, eager to get in the water. Until he realized that it wasn’t going to be completely on his terms. He is not a fan of “organized fun”. Everyone started singing and he immediately decided this was not for him. We got in the pool and he began to cry and say “no”. Okay, first instinct says he’s scared, but here’s the kicker, if I tried to get OUT of the pool with him, he became even more hysterical. After a lot of back and forth and sitting with him on the steps, we moved to the restroom because he was simply disrupting the class. He cried even harder. At my wit’s end, I tried something that we used to do with Isaac to calm him down. I held him close and put my mouth right up to his ear and said:
You are all done. Shhhhhhhhh.
I said it quietly but firmly. And he quieted up. Fairly quickly.
We got back in the pool, and it went a little better. He even began to have a little fun…until, I looked like I might be having fun as well. That, my friends, was not allowed. Cue tantrum. So I said it again. This is how we went through the entire 40 minutes of class. Anger, crying jags and me speaking firmly into his ear. I made no effort to have him participate, simply trying to get him to exist within the group.
The final tantrum occurred when class was over and he didn’t want to get out. I was so frustrated. There was no way to win, no middle ground in which everyone could enjoy themselves. I was ready to say, “forget it, he’s out of class,” and keep him home for the next 5 Saturdays.
But I remembered Kindermusik and how painful that first class was, and how 3 weeks in, it is much improved. I remembered Busy Bees and how he emerges delighted and sweaty from that time spent with other children. I remembered that he will be starting preschool this fall (or summer) and that he is going to have to learn to follow instructions, wait his turn, and exist peacefully within a group. I remembered that there were times that Isaac pushed my buttons so severely that I wanted to throw my hands up in the air and walk away. I remembered the reasons every body calls the age 2 TERRIBLE. And I remembered that one day, this too shall pass.
And I had to get over it. And we will go back next week, and it will probably still be kind of bad, but at the end of 6 weeks, we may actually be having fun.