Monday, November 07, 2011

Forget Terrible Twos, Think Ferocious Fives

A colleague at work has a new two year old. He was worried about “the terrible twos.” I told him it was a myth, anyone who talks about the terrible twos hasn’t met a three year old yet.

“Two is nice,” I continued, “Maybe worse then infanthood because they are mobile and surprisingly fast. But they are also learning new stuff almost every minute and talking in that cute mushed up way that is perfect for Twitter.”

“Three year olds are cute too, but they are a lot more energetic and capable. This continues through four year olds who develop and out and out death wish. Five is insane. Five year olds have incredible levels of hormones coursing through their systems. They are articulate, smart, willful, and – worst of all – easily bored. They are smart enough that the simple stuff that amused them only months ago for hours at a time won’t cut it anymore. But, they can’t entertain themselves yet. They are also enormously destructive - especially when they want to be helpful.”

“I remember my son at that age regularly demanding, “’Daddy! Play with me!’”

“That’s another thing,” I explained, “Children are like dictators, they cannot be appeased. I’d play with the kids for forty-five minutes and then need to attend to grown-up stuff – like blogging about my kids. They would whine and cry, ‘You never play with us.’ I would take them out from morning till afternoon to the zoo, on hikes and all sorts of adventures. We’d get home and they would look at me and ask, ‘What are we going to do now?’”

My colleague gulped, “Does it get better?”

“At five, it plateaus. They don’t get more energetic and they start to entertain themselves. Around seven they mature and become really nice. My son is ten and my daughter is seven. It really is a golden age.”

“So five bad years, then smooth sailing,” my colleague summarized.

“Not exactly, because then they turn into teenagers. I try not to think about it."

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