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Milestones in the Making
The twins are a month shy of four years old and both have had a recent growth spurt. A growth spurt for toddlers is different in a couple key ways from when they were infants. For one, they talk. The crying and fussiness has turned into stomps up the stairs as one yells at the other, “Leave Me ALONE.” The statement caught me off guard the first time it happened, as they’re twins and they’ve never been alone. Respecting those feelings has become a lesson that can still be hard for the other sibling to grasp.
Eating is different too during a growth spurt for toddlers. Again, they can communicate what they want to eat and most of the time they don’t want anything else. We thought my daughter was done with eating lunch until we got to the store and she asked for her own box of strawberries because she was “starving and worms were in her tummy and hungry.” Her milestone is less body mass and more creative storytelling.
My son has a different type of growth spurt going on in the gross motor skills department. Not because he’s a little boy who does gross things off and on as little boys do. No, I am talking coordination. If I had enough fingers to count how many times he has pegged me in the head with a ball, on purpose or on accident, maybe I would finally be able to catch the ball with my actual hands. The boy has a throw akin to a heat seeking missile, and he knows his strength to boot. The milestone will be his first lesson in empathy, which is especially important because they go to daycare. The one thing that is the same is how any kind of growth spurt means lots of sleep.
This winter has been a great sleep for all of us. While my twins are developing basic human instincts, I feel like due to my recent experiences I too am undergoing some rewiring. Coping skills for stress and anxiety, honing my own communication and time management skills—I definitely require more sleep to build these capacities. A lack of sleep at the toddler level means a lot of lashing out and maybe some regression in other areas of development. But for me as an adult, I might as well be renamed Dory with how forgetful I get. So, support becomes the main factor for success and my main support is co-support for the twins, which is their dad. I think he would agree that this school year seems to drag on forever and we are both looking more frequently for opportunities to get some alone time. Date nights are few and far between for students who move away from home, but we have made some great friendships in this new place to help us regain our sanity.
I think this process goes smoother when we have goals to attain and some reward to look forward to. For myself the goal and reward is certainly a degree. But how do you reward a child for killer aim or for hilarious stories? This is something I am still brainstorming, probably because I have forgotten my first ideas. In our house, learning is continual but we take time every week I would say to rejoice and find some peace in that process.
Celina Gray (Blackfeet and Little Shell Chippewa) is a student at Salish Kootenai College and the mother of twins.