I spent most of last weekend with our daughter, son-in-law, grand daughter, her hub, and our great grand daughter. It was our first in person, maskless, meeting and extended visit in over a year. Need I say we loved it?
We met at our place in “The Dells” and the weather was cool — quite a switch in one week from the low 50’s to today’s 91º forecast. Mike cooked a brisket on the grill, we all ate more than we should, and laughed just the right amount, and hugged almost enough.
Our great grand one is approaching her 2nd birthday. I am not going to say anything about “terrible” twos, but I am fascinated by the way we humans come to terms with our individuality, and the concept of “personality.”
Drew & Melanie have been proactive about teaching and encouraging little Sophia. She’s learning lot of words and she’s using them, not always at times when they could help her get her way, but she is using them.
Therein lies the rub. We humans quickly learn that WE are the center of the universe — at least we are to ourselves. Infancy frequently teaches new borns that adults love nothing more than to care for and coddle them. And it comes as a great shock to most of them, most of US when WE were infants too, that at some point in time we are no longer our parents priority; that parents have wants and wishes too; that we infants are expected to meet some of those expectations, and that they are not always going to give in to our assertions of self, or our demands for things.
The battle of wills commences.
I was watching (and listening) to the parents trying to encourage a 21 month old to “use your words.” Such an easy thing to say as an adult, but making the connection in a 21 month old brain between the idea that speaking a word can change the world is really a huge thing. It’s no wonder that little ones struggle to get that into their head. There is no connection between what they want and the utterance of a syllable or two — why should I say something now when it’s always worked for me just to scream? They get the idea eventually.
Personality is, at the bottom line, all that we really are. Our bodies grow, and age, and regenerate themselves in a regular cycle of weeks, months and years. The cells that form my body have not existed for long snd soon they will be replaced by other cells — yet my personality continues pretty much unchanged except by experience.
I could get all metaphysical and say that the personality — that unchanging part of ourselves — is what people talk about when they refer to their soul — their uniqueness — but I’m not going to go there today. Because today is all about getting our way, or not; about expressing who we are or having who we are determined by another.
The “Twos” don’t have to be terrible. Our daughter had a period of learning; I don’t think either Peg nor I considered that time to be terrible though we’d be lying to say it was not without challenges. But we went into it aware that growth is difficult and when you are starting off with a blank slate you can write any story you want upon it so why not make it the best story you can.
Of course our desire for our daughter to grow up in one way had nothing to do with her desire to grow up the way she wanted to… and we had our parental/child disagreements — you bet. Learning to encourage controlled growth without stifling it was, and is still, a challenge. And each generation has different tools to accomplish their personal objectives; and each generation also has it’s own biases and beliefs (true or untrue) that factor into raising an infant/child who has only one priority — to express themselves and become what they want to be.
I’m going to enjoy the next year or so. As great grandparents who live 300 miles away we will never be able to have the same kind of closeness to Sophia as my parents enjoyed who lived in a different apartment in the same building. We accept that. But that doesn’t mean that our love for the little one is any less; just that it will be expressed in different ways.
I’m confident in the parents. They are progressive and thoughtful people. I’m sure they’ll do the best job they can. Still, this isn’t 1951 when I was at that point, nor is it 1974 when our daughter was there, more 1993 when our granddaughter faced her second year. At each point raising your children was a very different experience and so it will continue generation by generation.
At some point the child will assert themself and from there on it will be a battle of the wills.