Are we there yet?!? I realize that, technically, Taylor is only 20 months old but we’ve arrived at the stage also known as “The Terrible Two’s”. At least, I think we’ve arrived there. People keep telling me, “You’ll know when you’ve hit that stage”, and it feels like we have, but what if the tantrums and the meltdowns that we’re experiencing now are just a precursor to something BIGGER? I imagine that we won’t know when we’ve reached the peak until we’re long past it. The flip side of the coin is that when T.J. is in a good mood, she’s in a REALLY good mood. Every night, she has a euphoric period for about an hour before bedtime. She gets extremely giddy and playful and we all have the best time together. The other night, we were putting her to bed and we said, “Love you” and she replied, “Yuh-yoo”. It was the first time that she said “Love you” on her own. I have no idea whether she understands what “Love you” means and it really didn’t matter. I could have melted into a puddle right there on the floor. I would put up with all of the tantrums in the world just to hear her say “Yuh-yoo”.
We hit a couple of milestones this week. First, Taylor said a two-word phrase: “daddy shoes”, while she was handing Zach his shoes. She also said “all nun” (translated: “all done”), so maybe we’re entering a new stage of talking. Often these things take a long time to progress, so I won’t expect full sentences anytime soon.
The second milestone that we reached is that Taylor went to preschool for the first time this week. It was really just a trial run for about 2 hours. Apparently, I needed the trial run more than Taylor because I was pretty nervous, not having ever left her with a stranger before. When I dropped her off, I stayed for a little while to see how the school worked, but then I felt like I was just going to make Taylor nervous by hovering around, so I left. I got as far as my car in the parking lot, which is where I sat for awhile. It was so hard to drive away and leave her there, but I could see her through the window as I left. She was loading her arms with as many baby dolls and teddy bears she could carry – she seemed pretty happy and she certainly wasn’t concerned that I had gone! When I came back (early), Taylor didn’t want to leave, so I saw that as a pretty good sign.
The biggest change that we’ve undergone this week has been to our feeding/eating habits. I went to lunch with a friend last week and I ordered a dish for myself, but I specifically ordered something that I thought Taylor would eat. She wouldn’t touch it and I realized right there that the way that I was handling mealtimes and snacks just wasn’t working. I’d been trying to cater to her, only serving things that I thought she’d eat and short-order cooking meals at her request, only to have her turn down the very foods that she’d requested! I went back and re-read a book that was recommended to me about toddler eating called “Child of Mine” and now I’m serving 3 meals and 2 snacks a day and Taylor can either choose to eat them or not. So far it seems to be working great. She’s eating more and we’re both more relaxed.
Taylor has taken an interest in clothes and accessories. Shoes are a big draw, so she spends a good deal of time trying on our shoes and tromping around the house in them. She has little dress-up sessions and we find our clothes strewn all around the house. Many days I go into her bedroom to find that she has emptied the contents of her dresser onto the floor. Sometimes she’ll come out of her room with socks on her hands and three different shirts on. The other day, we saw a blur come scooting out of her room, down the hallway and into our bedroom. A moment later, she came shuffling back and we realized that T.J. had her pants on over her head so she couldn’t see. She was holding her hands out in front of her, feeling her way around the house. When I took the pants off, she just giggled and put them right back onto her head!
Taylor added two new words to her vocabulary yesterday: elevator and laundry. Both times, she pointed at the items in question and said the words without any prompting. They weren’t totally intelligible, so I had to play 20 questions until I figured out what she was saying, but she definitely knew what she was talking about. She’s growing her vocabulary by leaps and bounds all the time.
T.J. has also been working on another, somewhat less desirable skill: tantrums. We usually have a couple of really good ones every day now. They involve a lot of drama and falling on the floor and tears and hiccups – the whole works! She’s really taking it to the next level. I’ve found that the more I try to solve whatever is bothering her, the worse it gets, so I try to just stay out of it and let it run its course. The nice thing is that the tantrums generally end as quickly as they began and she goes back to being her happy old self again. Last week, we went to Studio Grow, which is an indoor playspace for kids. We had been there awhile when Taylor started playing with two baby dolls. Another girl came over and wanted one of them, so I told Taylor she would have to share one. She clutched both dolls to her chest and began to cry. She did not want to give them up, but the little girl was looking expectantly at me, waiting for the sharing to begin. I decided to stand firm, so I told Taylor that she would have to share one of the dolls and if she didn’t, then I would take both of the dolls. T.J. was absolutely distraught, sobbing and crying, “NO, NO!”. All I could think of was that scene in the movie “Sophie’s Choice”, when the Nazi guard makes Meryl Streep choose one of her children to be taken away and if she doesn’t choose one he’ll take them both. I felt like that guard. In the end, I gave Taylor the choice of sharing or leaving and she didn’t want to share, so by default we ended up leaving. It was time to go anyway, and by the time we got to the car, the doll episode had been completely forgotten.