Wednesday, April 23, 2008

growing pains

This past week was very challenging! As Olivia approaches 18 months she is giving us an early taste of the terrible two's. I are asking, "Olivia, terrible? It cannot be true." Well I thought we were going to be lucky enough to have a child who doesn't throw tantrums. What sort of fantasy world was I living in? Lately Todd and I have seen a glimpse of Olivia getting frustrated and angry but it was like she transformed into a completely different child last week. In fact I can tell you the exact day I noticed a change...last Friday. Weird, huh? Well it's true. Last Friday she started acting differently when not getting her way.

For those of you who know Olivia and see her on a regular basis you know that she is a very happy, loving and outgoing little girl. What you may not know is that she is also very stubborn, extremely strong-willed and enormously independent! I think that her recent change in behavior is just her way of expressing her feelings without knowing how to do that calmly.

The big change seems to have happened on the day of her very first swimming lesson. The lesson itself was great! She had a blast in the pool and was so brave it scared me. All of the other children were holding onto their parents for dear life while my child was trying to pry loose from my arms. I think she thought she would be able to swim on her own but I had to convince her that she needed to hold onto Mommy while in the pool. This kid loves the water!

What Olivia could not understand is why the lesson had to come to an end. When it was time to get out of the pool she began to throw a fit like I have never seen before. I could hardly hold onto her and she was crying hysterically. I tried everything I could to calm her but nothing worked. She got so angry that she hit me! I was in shock! I have seen her hit the floor and her toys in frustration but this was the first time that she hit me in anger. After explaining to her that hitting Mommy is unacceptable she cried even harder. Needless to say I rushed her into the locker room and got us both changed so we could get the heck out of there! It was a nightmare!

We spent the rest of the weekend and this past week trying to help Olivia work through her frustrations (without hitting!). It was frustrating for me because I have never seen her act this way before and I was unsure exactly how to handle these situations. After speaking with a few people, including the director of the Montessori school she will be attending in the fall, I received some very helpful suggestions. I was made aware of the fact that Olivia is finally starting to realize that she is a separate being from me. She has her own emotions, likes and dislikes. With that change comes the change in her behavior. I now know how to talk to her when she is having a tantrum and certain things to do to avoid tantrums all together. Even in the past few days I have noticed a change.

Because Olivia enjoys every little life experience to the fullest she has a hard time dealing with those activities coming to an end. The biggest trouble we have with her is when we have to stop doing something she is enjoying, like coming indoors after playing in the yard or leaving the pool when the swimming lesson is over. I was told that it is important to give her advance warning that these activities will soon be ending and let her know what to expect next. The tantrums occur when we abruptly stop doing something. It makes sense and I can understand why she would get upset. It is my job to help her deal with the fact that good things must come to an end.

So it has been a rough week but the good moments have definitely out-weighed the bad! Now that Spring seems to be in full swing we have been able to spend more time outdoors. This past weekend was the opening of the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo. Olivia's great-aunt gave us a season pass once again this year for Christmas (thanks Aunt Sue Sue). We were dying to take Olivia this year now that she knows the names of the animals. I was anxious to see how she would react to them in person. She had a blast! Her favorites animals were the kangaroos and the monkeys. Here she is seeing a kangaroo for the first time...very fascinated!

And then there were the monkeys. They were super active that day...chasing each other around and even taking time for a little hanky-panky (I covered Olivia's eyes for that part).

As she watched them from the sidelines she shouted over and over again, "Hi Monkeys!". I think she wanted to jump in there and run around with them! Just listen to her laugh...

We look forward to lots of fun times at the zoo this summer. It is a great place to spend the day or even just an hour. That's the great thing about the zoo pass! Not to mention it is a great place for Olivia to learn about many different animals. So much fun!

So I guess the hardest part of this past week has been to face the fact that my little girl is growing up. The growing pains that she is experiencing are just normal changes in becoming a more self sufficient human being. It is Todd's and my job, as parents to help her though this tough time. So while Olivia is starting to learn how to handle disappointment and her frustrations, we are learning how to deal with the fact that our baby is now a little girl! I better buckle up cause it may be a bumpy ride!


Anonymous said...

Welcome to the terrible two's...all parents go thru it and its no fun but Olivia is a sweet and intelligent little girl and she will be fine. Her zest for life makes her want to enjoy everything and not want for fun things to end, she will learn, we all do..Glad you are enjoying the zoo once again, I knew this year Olivia would really love it.
Love Aunt Sue Sue

Aunt Chris said...

Kids---and life's big lessons. My road has remained bumpy for 20 years now!! LOL That's life. She's growing up so fast. All you can do is follow your heart and those good ol' maternal instincts. God definitely instills them in you for a reason!!

Anonymous said...

I think that you are making things up about my sweet and perfect grandchild. How dare you!

Tiffany Leininger said...

It is definitely hard when we realize that our toddlers are no longer "babies". I don't know how many times we have said, "What happened? When did she get so big?" I am right there with you and hoping we can make it through the terrible twos as well. Buckle your seatbelt and say a lot of prayers! :-)

Anonymous said...

Well, I hope our little one someday enjoys the water as much as Olivia. Maybe he will take after his mom and be a little fish. I think I will need all the pointers I can get for the terrible two's. Luckily I don't have to worry about that for awhile.

Heather and Jason

Wormie said...

The temper tantrums can't be fun, but watching Livie become her own person is fabulous! She has such a zest for life!!!

Uncle Larry said...

Well I know how Livies feels when she hears the fun must come to an end. I dont like it either...who does. Great advice about telling her in advance it will come to an end. Time for the terrible 2's. You didn't think it would all be peaches and cream. I particulalrly don't like hearing stubborn, strong willed and independent (as it reminds me of someone), but I am sure she will learn to use that as an asset when she grows up. You guys look like you were having a blast in the water..and I listened to Livie's laugh about 20 times and her monkey sounds were on point. IT MADE MY DAY. The previous post and modelling pictures were awesome and who can deny she is a rock star to be in those sunglasses. P.S. I still think Todd looks like Colin Powell.

Katie said...

ahhh,the life of a mother with a toddler. isn't it grand? :) hugs and kisses one minute, screaming tantrums the next, sweet little girls turning devilish. both of mine have/are there. unfortunately, terrible 2's turns to 3's and 4's and 5's... i don't think it goes away. :)

Andrea said...

Just so you know, you are not alone. Just ask the other moms that witnessed one of Tabi's first all-out tantrums at parkview north park last Wednesday at moms group. She freaked out, kicking and screaming. I didn't know what to do with her! I would love to hear some of your suggestions. I am at my witts end when it comes to figuring out how to deal with it.