It occurred to me the other day, as my toddler held me hostage on our living room floor, that I might be raising a teenager. In one hand, I held his leg to keep him from scooting away with a butt smeared with poop and in the other the overflowing diaper. The situation was precarious.
Before my son entered into toddler land, I naively thought it couldn’t be that bad. After all, it couldn’t be as bad as middle school or the onset of puberty. My 28-pound cutie wouldn’t turn into one of those screaming, foam dripping monsters being dragged away from the playground. Yet, I was starting to become suspicious.
Now, you might be concerned that you’re living with a Twonager as well. This is understandable. If you suspect you might be raising one, take the following quiz to find out.
For every a answer you earned three points. Every b answer is worth 2 points. And every c answer is worth 1 point.
Add up your points to find out if you’re raising a Twonager.
If you scored 17 – 21 points, you’re most definitely living with a Twonager. Don’t worry; he’ll grow out of it. Then back into it around age 13.
If you scored 16 – 12 points you’re on the cusp. More than likely living with a tween. He shows some symptoms but hasn’t fully gone over to a Twonager (yet).
If you scored 7 – 11 points you’re living with a toddler. What a relief!
A Twonager Deconstructed
Like teenagers, toddlers are mercurial. One second my son is singing along with Daniel Tiger, and the next demanding a banana. He can be enjoying a bowl of yogurt, only to throw it on the floor for no apparent reason. Teenagers exhibit the same signs of ever shifting moods. When I was 14, I had no clue what I wanted. All I knew was that I didn’t want what I had wanted.
Testing limits is another toddler and teenager commonality. The other day, I told my son that he had to stay on the sand in the playground. He marched over to the edge and put one foot in the sand and one foot out on the grass. He looked at me. We both froze. I made a slight movement. He bolted towards the busy street. I caught him just as he was stepping off the curb. Teenagers test limits too. I’ll just keep asking until my mom lets me go to the party driving her new car.
In Harvey Karp’s book, The Happiest Toddler on the Block, he calls toddlers, uncivilized cavemen. My son won’t let me feed him anymore. If I go anywhere near his spoon, he grabs it and says mine. Even the cat is subject to his possessiveness. She sits next to his bear and he says, “Mine, kitty,” in an authoritative voice. Most of the time my twonager won’t even let me change his diaper. My Teenagers don’t wear diapers, but they certainly believe they can do everything by themselves.
Another similarity is that they keep you up at night. My son wakes up at night if he’s cold, hot, has a bad dream, or just wants to play. I’ve given up on sleep. The other night, I woke up to his screams. Curfew is meant to be broken. I ran into his room. His bear had fallen out of his crib. I picked it up. He said, “Mine.” Even as I’m impressed with the correct use of a possessive, I’m starting to dislike that word. Teenagers keep you up as well.
Developmental changes run rampant in toddlers and teenagers. My son changes every day. One day he can only say wader (for water), and the next he can say, more wader peas (for please). Changes aren’t regulated to language either. I glanced over the other day, and he grew two inches before my eyes. I swear I heard a popping sound. His head suddenly looked enormous.
Teenagers are the same way. My friend’s son seemed to have stretched out like a noodle overnight. They also throb for new adventure and experiences. Dr. Geld, a neuroscientist at the National Institute of Mental Health, says that 95 percent of brain development happens before age six. The remaining right before and during adolescence. If my brain were expanding, I’d be a little testy too.
Talking back starts surprisingly early. After mine and banana, no is my son’s other favorite word. It’s time to get in the car now. No! We need to wash our hands. No! Do you want to have some fun? No! Teenagers love this word too. Except their explanations are a little longer. No, like, I don’t wanna go. Okay. I like, just don’t wanna go.
Whoever you’re livings with – twonager or teen – remember that it’s important to take one day at a time. Your twonager will soon be a regular teen – before you know it!
How to Thrive as a Disabled Single Mom
How to Save LOTS of Money on Back-to-School Shopping