I am mother to a twonager. A two year old going on a teenager. And it’s shocking.
A google search (obvs) of teenager traits suggests emotional- TICK. Independent- TICK. Rebellious- TICK, TICK, TICK. Perfectionism- TICK. Adventurous- TICK. Risk-Taking- (worryingly) TICK. No one prepared me for this. He is not two. He is 15. I’m sure of it. I think I skipped a few years.
Let’s take a look at his emotions. Emotional doesn’t cover it. Everything is the end of the world. Not being able to take his jumper off results in huffing and puffing and stamping feet. The face on it. The strop that ensues. Wow. Asking him to get dressed out of his beloved pjs creates a mini Harry Enfield’s Kevin. When the sun was in his eyes recently he was so upset you would think I had binned all his toys. Dramatic, over the top emotions to seemingly irrelevant things. It reminds me of the time I had a new pair of white shoes and leant them to a friend and she scuffed them. But that REALLY was the end of the world. A long tearful phone call to my mum later and I realised it wasn’t. Bit of polish and they were fine. Over the top reactions come as standard with teenagers and toddlers alike. Emotional highs and lows are par for the course. But can someone give me a manual? It really and I mean really does not help to laugh at him when he’s crying over a dropped biscuit.
My sweet, little baby is no more. He’s fiercely independent. Wanting to do everything for himself. Pour his own cereal, drinks, walk down the road alone, get in the car himself- he even says “I’ll drive Mummy”- Queue battle to get him in the back and remind him of his years. He chooses what and when he eats. “A youghurt on the sofa Please Mummy”; “Absolutely not”; “In 5 minutes?”; “Still no, in your high chair please”; “I just take it to the sofa, yeh?”. His negotiating skills Teresa needs this week. “One more go on the slide and we must go Eden”; “5 more” (big blue eyes and long eyelashes) “Ok 5 more”.
He’s more rebellious than Dennis The Menace. No means nothing. No means yes. No means it’s something exciting and worth doing. He wants to look grown up and impress people- already! If he’s ever around older kids he will try to impress them with his rebellious, no care attitude. If I disapprove it makes his behaviour worse. He wants my disapproval. He’s confused. He thinks he’s an adult and doesn’t understand why he can’t do the things we adults do. Like swearing. He KNOWS they are adult words and it’s totally our fault for letting him hear them. But he occasionally busts one out in perfect context just to rebel. In front of Nanny. She told him it’s not funny and he replied “It IS funny Nanny.” Mortified.
Perfectionism can be a common trait amongst teenagers due to a fear of failure. This could not ring more true for my Eden. He wants to get everything right. Maybe coupled with his independence and desire to be seen as an adult- getting things wrong reminds him he’s only 2. Not the same as that 8 year old in the park and not the same as Daddy. A perfect example would be when we were having a recent BBQ and he wanted to carry the food, sauces etc outside on a tray. Like Mummy. It meant so much to him and when he dropped them his heart broke into a million pieces in front of my eyes. He wanted to do it perfectly, be seen as grown up and helpful and his weak two year old arms failed him. Enter the emotions. Enter the tears.
The biggest source of all our arguments (yes I argue with my two year old) is his desire to be adventurous and risk taking. Again this is common amongst teenagers. They feel invincible. Experimentation is learning and I’m all for it. Pushing boundaries. But I am wired to care and he is wired to move on. So conflict will inevitably unfold. I feel like I constantly say no. Get down. Get off. Stop. Put that down. Let go. Slow down. Be careful. Come away. Watch out. Take that from around your neck. He’s a thrill seeker for sure. On the beach recently my brother in law asked him what he was doing near the waters edge- “JUMPING IN THE SEA” came the reply. Splash!! Fully clothed. Nice clothes too. Smart. Spent the rest of the day in his pjs.
He wants new experiences constantly. Not happy to stand still. He wants to explore his limits and abilities. And I have to watch with my breath held. I have read that the parts of the brain that handle planning and impulse control don’t completely mature until about age 25. Brilliant. 23 years left. I can feel the grey hairs sprouting. I’m going to try and channel this into “safe and constructive outlets” I.e martial arts, rock climbing. And he will look adorable in the white dressing gown thing. Can you tell I’ve been late night googling things like “How to manage adventurous behaviour?”.
He is a teenager without the sulking off to his bedroom. Without the loud thumping music, nursery rhymes instead. Everything except the greasy hair and breaking voice. The moodiness, the righteousness, the independence. I used to be cool in his eyes and that’s slowly slipping away. The older boy in the park is much cooler now. He’s refusing to kiss me in public, hold my hand and I wasn’t prepared for this so soon. Dropping him down the road from school so his friends don’t see me is just around the corner isn’t it? And he calls me Mum. Not Mummy. Mumma. Mum. Like “MUuuuuuUMmmmmm”. “Can go outside Mum? Get my football Mum?”. Give me back my baby please!
I hope this two-nager phase passes and doesn’t just carry on into actual adolescence. Is it healthy behaviour? I think so. Is it hard work? The hardest. Am I producing a strong, capable, fierce, independent young man who I am incredibly proud of? You bet I am. Watch out world.