Even at the lightning speed of a child’s growth you sometimes miss the transitions from one stage to another. It’s not as if they are mute one day then say, “More milk please,” the next and you stare gape-mouth at your child’s first words. It’s a long process from grunts to grunts with gestures, grunts with intonation, grunts with a mouth shape…until you realize you’ve been raising a pig this whole time instead of a human baby. Transitions rarely come as definable moments, rather as realizations that a chapter has closed and you’re well into the next.
Such with the Terrible Twos. On our recent road trip, Child Harbat was exceptionally well-mannered, and spent the week with hordes of family, busy schedules, and unfamiliar environments with such a happy nature and ease that it wasn’t until we got home that we realized she is different. There exists in her now a patience, a sunny happiness, and a willingness to catch flies with honey instead of vinegar. She will still yell out demands but often follows them up with a “please”, and her temper tantrums are infrequent and self-aware—as if she’s doing a magic trick where we already know the secret. I’d attribute it to good parenting but I think she’s learning that being nice pays higher dividends than being a hellion.
CH will be turning four in October and, with a little reflection, I see that she’s no longer a toddler or a dwarf tyrant, but a little girl. Her spherical Buddha belly is disappearing as she elongates, and her social interactions are marked by an awareness of other people’s feelings. Does this mean we’re about to enter the era of the Fantastic Four?