Monday, January 31, 2011

Table Abuse and the Terrible Two's

            The table was handed down to me from my grandfather. It’s a beautiful Teak table that expands to banquet lengths if needed. A good family friend took the time to refinish it, and when we moved into our new home it was beautiful, immaculate, and a pleasure to look at.
            The first thing Michelle did was protect it with a permanent tablecloth. Two weeks of constantly replacing soiled cloths that never did look anywhere near as nice as the table finally made me put my foot down.
            “This is a beautiful table. I want to see it.”
            Michelle looked me in the eye and didn’t argue.
            After that, we were able to see the table in all its glory. It proved to hold up well to playdough, watercolors, and regular dining. I was proud of my decision, and happy to see it every day.
            Until last week.
            I was washing dishes when I heard a terrible “scratching” sound coming from the table where Celia was eating. I looked over to see her gouging the table with her fork.
            “Celia! Stop!”
            I rushed over and pulled the fork out of her hand. But the damage had been done. Yes, we communicated our sadness and switched her to plastic utensils, but the question remains:
            What exactly are the “Terrible Two’s”?
            Part of me wishes I had more time to read the technical parenting books so that I could understand and catch the fiascos before they occur. But then I think that’s not really going to help. Nobody can prevent a two-year-old from exploring. They’re not only figuring out the world around them, they’re figuring out the world within. And although they have an idea of what’s acceptable behavior and what’s not, sometimes they just want to give a new idea a try and see for themselves.
            Celia is an unbelievably good child. She’s well behaved, listens to us 95% of the time, and generally communicates what she needs. But she’s two. And like every two-year-old, as her personality develops, so do her flaws. Every step of her development seems to be giving me a positive and a negative reaction.
            She is starting to show strong preferences.
            I smile every time I see her strip down and put on her Christmas tutu so she can twirl and bob in front of the mirror. But then, it gets frustrating when she won’t eat the dinner we made her and ends up either eating nothing or a piece of toast.
            She is starting to figure out how something she’s heard integrates with real life.
            I was thrilled when she said to me, “I’m going to wash my hands because I don’t want the germs to get me sick.” Yay! Personal hygiene is every parents’ dream. But then last night I was surprised when I was putting her to bed. She suddenly bunched up into a ball underneath the covers and said, “Daddy, I’m hiding from the monsters.”
            Where on earth did she hear about monsters at night?! I’ve tried my darndest to keep that from her – but I suppose our pop culture at large will eventually do its work to penetrate her two-year-old brain.
            I quickly said to her, “There are no monsters in your room. I always make sure of that. And monsters don’t exist, so you don’t have to worry.”
            Celia continued to stay in her ball, so I went on, “And that night light over there is a magic night light. If monsters did exist, it would scare them off. So you’ll never have to worry about monsters ever again.”
            Why do I have a feeling that this was just the first time I’ll be hearing about monsters at bedtime, and not the last?
            Because she’s two. And things like monsters, picky eating, and gouging at the table with a fork are all standard accoutrements in the two-year-old palate.
            So what do we do about the table?
            I showed my sister-in-law a couple of days ago, and she said, “Ten years from now, you’ll look at those scratches and think, ‘Ah, remember when Celia was two and used to scratch the table? Those were the days.’”
            I’m not sure it’ll happen exactly that way, but I do think she’s right. I’m going to let it go. This is why people don’t buy expensive furniture till the kids have moved out. What’s the point.
            It’s going to get well-used, so we’d better get well-used to it.

1 comment:

  1. And sometimes the accidents happen not by the 2 yr old, but by the clumsy adult or the flustered parent with only 2 hands.
    ( ;