Monkey See, Monkey Do

Lately, Oliver has been picking up some bad habits from his sister.

Just in general, Ollie is always echoing what Evie says. I don’t think that is specific to him, but more just what two year olds do in general. Usually this is a good thing, because he’s learning about language and socialization. But going through the terrible twos is a lot different when you have an older sister to teach you everything, including how to misbehave.

Evie has a certain way of dealing with situations where she doesn’t get what she wants, where she sort of raises her eyebrows and gets this nonchalant tone of voice, agrees with what you’re saying, but exaggerates it to some ridiculous conclusion as if to say, “Okay, we’ll do it your way, do you see what’s going to happen?”. Something like, “Fine. Fine. I guess I’m just never going to wear clothes ever again.” It’s actually pretty hilarious; it’s petulant, but it seems like grown up petulant, not 5 year old petulant.

And now Oliver is doing it too. He doesn’t get extra rice like he wants? “Then I’m not going to eat it then.” He just absolutely matches the tone and posture and facial expression *perfectly*, that there’s no doubt where he got it from (and, unfortunately, I think they both ultimately get it more from me than Sara, which is sort of an uncomfortable realization).

There’s a couple of other bad habits he’s picked up from her, mostly about being afraid of things. He won’t go into the basement anymore, or even the living room if we’re at the other end of the house. Sometimes if you leave him alone (and he thinks of it), he’ll come running out screaming, “I’m scared, I’m scared!” I’ve asked him some questions, and I don’t even think he knows what he’s scared of, or even what “being scared” means. He just knows that’s what Evie would do, so he does it too.

Oh well, at least this way we know what to expect…

Anyway, it’s not all bad. It does my heart good to see him gaze at her with adoring eyes and just try to do everything he can to be like his big sis. He copies her because he thinks she’s the most amazing person in the whole wide world. For now, she doesn’t mind too much. It will be sad when she gets old enough to not want her little brother copying her all the time, or when he gets old enough to do it out of a desire to annoy rather than love.

For now, though, it’s actually pretty sweet.

The Terrible Twos

Oh boy. It’s that time.

Oliver is in the midst of the most typical terrible twos there ever was. Although I know that the ability to throw down a tantrum and the desire to do exactly the opposite of what you’re told with a twinkle in his eye are normal for this age, it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

I would say he is both better and worse than Evie (I was complaining about 15 minute crying fits? Ha!). On one hand, his personality is generally more easy going, and sometimes (very, very occasionally) you can derail him a little bit with distraction, because he’s not as single minded and determinedly furious as she was. (You would laugh at that last sentence if you could see how determinedly furious he has been at least once a day for the past few weeks.) He doesn’t seem to be *quite* as opinionated as Evie is about things. Okay, well, I will say this, at least he has never peed himself in anger just to spite me.

On the other hand, when Evie got really mad, she would always throw up. So it couldn’t go on that long; it had a built in time limit. Oliver can go on, and on, and on, and on no matter how many times you think, “He absolutely cannot keep up this level of anger for long.” Twice now he has kept me up for a solid hour in the middle of the night (believe me, I checked the time), shrieking, crying, sweating, kicking the ground, the whole nine, because I dared to change his dirty diaper. At one point I stopped trying to calm him down and just read a book. He never paused or even slowed down for a second. An hour is a long time to expend that much energy. I know I couldn’t manage it!

(Totally off topic here, by why is WordPress recommending that I tag this post Mitt Romney??? Draw your own conclusions on that one folks, I guess we know which way WordPress leans.)

Although most of the time his typical two year old behavior is frustrating (especially when it involves biting, hitting and kicking, and when it takes three times as long to get out the door), sometimes you can’t help but laugh. It’s just so funny to see someone totally Hulk out over something so trivial, like he would destroy the world with his anger over the fact that you put his dinner plate *there* instead of *right there* where it clearly belongs.

He’s normally such a sweetheart that this new thing is just so incongruous with his usual behavior. It’s really surprising, and then again it’s not. Having gone through this once already, it’s eerie how similar it is to when Evie was a two year old. As with a lot of things with raising Ollie, it’s easier to bear knowing that it’s totally normal, and it’s just a phase that will pass.

Although it’s never easy, parenting is a lot easier the second time around.

Oh yeah, this part is supposed to be difficult isn’t it?

Lately Evie and Ollie have been fighting like cats and dogs. At times, it is difficult to leave them in a room together. Evie certainly has her share of the blame, but I would say the big difference seems to be Oliver.

It’s like he suddenly woke up and realized he wanted his say. He has very strong opinions on things. Everything in the house is arranged JUST THE WAY HE WANTS IT! Don’t you dare touch anything or move it or hand him the wrong thing or try to take something away. It doesn’t matter that it was on the floor and he hadn’t even looked at it twice in the past week. If you touch it (or especially if Evie touches it), there’s going to be a meltdown.

Understandably, this is sort of hard for Evie to take. First off, she’s used to doing whatever she wants, whether Oliver likes it or not. Second off, she’s often an innocent bystander, maybe picking up some abandoned crayons only to be suddenly attacked by a furious maniac. She often gets the short end of the stick when we have to take something of hers and put it away because she simply cannot play with it without Oliver being physically restrained.

Then it occurred to me: the terrible twos! Oliver is just about to turn two, and that’s how a two year old is supposed to act.

Honestly, it really hasn’t been that bad. Looking back, it seemed a lot worse when Evie was doing it. I guess it’s a lot easier to deal with now because 1) we’ve been through it before, so we’re more prepared, 2) we know it doesn’t last long, and 3) having two kids means we’re busier now than we were back then. And having an older kid helps out too, both from the fact that they do *sometimes* get along and play, and the fact that he can watch her and learn how to behave a little bit.

Still, when you combine his new attitude with the fact that he’s getting molars and waking up many, many times at night, this whole parenting thing definitely got turned up a notch.

Terrible Twos

What happened to my perfect little angel?

Over the weekend a switch of some kind turned in her head, and she became a holy terror. Anything you ask her to do, she is guaranteed to do the opposite. Every little thing becomes the most difficult, frustrating thing in the world. Anything she can throw or knock over, she does, all looking you right in the eye with a little mischievous grin on her face, daring you to do anything about it. She has 15 minute hysterical crying fits when she doesn’t get her way. Keep in mind, this is the girl who will make herself puke if she gets too upset. And this is a girl with a lot of opinions too, not just on what she should wear, but on what you should wear, where you should sit, if you should take your shoes off or leave them on, etc. And God help you if you don’t do exactly as she says. It’s not like it was a surprise, per say. Obviously you hear all the stories about how difficult kids her age are. But the swiftness of the change was surprising.

One interesting aspect of it is bargaining. She has become a master staller and she tries to make deals with you. Like, if you tell her it is time to put her shoes on and she doesn’t want to, she will immediately start talking about how much she wants to eat. She knows we try to get her to eat all the time, so she thinks this will work as a diversion. She understands bargains that go the other way too, since the only way Sara could get her into the cart at the grocery store was to say, “Evie, if they ask me if you can have a cookie, do you want to say yes?” after which she became a perfect angel. Unfortnately, she didn’t go for my bargin of “be good or I’ll publish nasty things about you on the Internet”, hence this post.

It has only been about 3 days of this and I just can’t see how we can make it another 3 or 4 months.

It’s not all rough times though, there were a few highlights over the weekend.

  • Saying “Nala, that is not very nice!” when Nala nipped her hand for being too in her face.
  • Making up a noise for raccoons that sounds like “da da da da da” when she didn’t know what sort of noise they made.
  • “Smiling” on command by like squinching up her eyes and doing a sort of exaggerated face stretching with her bottom teeth sticking out.

In completely unrelated news, I had the most delicious smelling shower this morning! New shampoo you ask? No sir, baking bread! Sara programmed the bread machine last night so that it would finish the loaf by the time we woke up this morning. Around 3 a.m. Sara moved the bread machine to the bathroom in hopes that the “whirrrr whirrrr whirrrr” of the kneading mechanism would be quieter with the bathroom door shut and the fan on. So right about the time I was stepping into the shower a delicious smelling loaf of bread was baking on the counter about a foot away. Needless to say, my stomach was rumbling.

I’m contemplating inventing a combination bread machine / shower water heater that would provide you with an on-demand hot shower and delicious loaf of bread. The only thing I’m missing is a catchy name. Suggestions?