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Imitation is flattery at its most dangerous

Little YY is now pushing 22 months old. Can’t hardly believe the time has whooshed by like that. It was just yesterday – actually, nearly 22 months ago but who’s counting? – that the little tyke popped out of his momma’s belly and screeched to the world that he wanted to get back in, it was so warm and comfortable in there. Doctors, fluoroscent lights, surgical equipment, the weary world cacophony, and all the caterwauling and drugs (for X) and tears (for Y) and so on and so forth – what a rude introduction to this planet.

And little did he know that he was about to become one of us. One of us!

He’s becoming more and more like that these days. Becoming one of us means imitation. You know the old saying, imitation is the sincerest flattery. Or something to that effect. It also can be the most dangerous. The reason for that is multifold – and primarily because no matter what we do as parents, he will watch and learn and start to imitate.

Monkey see, monkey do. That’s ri-i-i-ight. Almost as precisely as his father – in other words, me – imitates various actors in various movies. “You talkin’ to me?” “You find me funny?” “Bonasera, Bonasera… what have I done to have you treat me so disrespectfully?” and my personal favourite: “Awwwwwwwl RIGHTY, then!”

So, little YY sits there at the table, watching us. We’re usually running about, doing our stuff, engaging in loveable horseplay, and every so often, I’ll have my head up my arse and X will whack me across the shoulder as a message to pull my head out of my arse.

Until now. I realize that little YY will see this and realize that violence is OK. So she’s stopped. She only whacks me when he’s not looking. And she’s careful to check, too. So she’s not so off-the-cuff – she is precise in whacking me like that.

And language? Yes. Little YY has become very adept at language. He’s becoming bilingual – Portuguese as well as English – and he points to his mouth and says “Mmwaaooh?” Points to his eye: “Aye-EEEEE!” Points to his nose: “Nariz! NARIZ!!” He wants water: “Agoooooooo-AH!” He’s finished whatever he’s doing: “Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwl DONE!”

Very cool. This means one thing and one thing only: No more F-bombs and no more S-bombs. We’re very, very careful about that. We wonder if he learns this stuff from TV as well. It could well be possible. So we’re careful about it all.

Monkey see, monkey do. That’s right. We are getting to that age where we actually have to watch what we do and say around our little imitation machine. We actually have to be role models now.

Role models? Us? Good lord. Lots of work to be done, to be sure.

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Tantrum! Tantrum! Tantrum!

Well, kids, that time of the development is upon us now.

I’ve heard all about the “terrible twos”, but being the incoherent, stubborn, distrusting-of-authority types that we are, we absolutely refused to acknowledge the possibility of the “terrible twos” actually existing.

In fact, X would boldly claim: “There’s no such thing as terrible twos”. And then she’d fill up her glass of wine, and end of discussion right there. Just because people talked about arsenic hours and terrible twos does not necessarily mean that our little YY would experience the same.

Or, more accurately, subject us to the same.

Boy, were we wrong. Or so I think. X is still at the jury on this topic.

What happened before is every once in awhile, little YY would be quite difficult, but most of the time it’d be easy to calm him right the heck down and move right along. It’d be easy to keep him occupied, easy to keep him happy, and entertained, and whatnot.

But now, it’s as if he would completely flip out – complete with kicking legs, arching back and everything else – if we were to even come anywhere remotely close to imposing barriers on what he wanted to do. We thought for sure that we were being horrible parents. After all, what self-respecting parent could raise their child to be such a difficult little devil?

Yes. A massive tantrum every time we stop him from going outside. Every time we walk into a new room. Every time we try to pry something out of his hands that we really don’t want him to play with. Every time we try to stuff food into his mouth (gently, of course). And everything. Well, not everything, but you get the idea. It feels like every evening is a battle of wills, a test of patience, a trial and tribulations for one’s self as a parent.

And for little YY too, as we learned, it’s immensely frustrating and bewildering, this whole new world in which he has been deposited without any say in the matter.

So, for little YY, he’s just learning how muc the world has to offer, and how much it’s seemingly at his disposal. And when we try to stop him from doing anything, he will lose it. Because he doesn’t know how to manage his frustrations yet. He doesn’t know how to be disappointed yet. It’s either total happiness, or total anger. Being less than two years old, he can’t really be faulted for not knowing how to manage his emotions.

So, managing his tantrums is something we all have to learn as a troika. Not just him. Us, too. We all learn together. I learn to be patient, to be calm, to be strong. Ditto for X. And little YY learns from watching us, and perhaps learns down the road that throwing a tantrum doesn’t help matters at all, and as a matter of fact, makes things more difficult.

So, down the road – we hope – things get a little easier as he learns to talk, learns to understand why we don’t let him do certain things, and learns to comprehend what we’re saying. And most important of all, he learns to talk and in turn communicate what he wants from us.

And that fateful day is coming soon, we hope. One day: “Mamma, I’m hungry.” Another day: “Mamma, I pooped myself.” And so on. And hopefully when those gates are opened, there won’t be such a pent-up frustration building up all the time.