The other day, I took my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Sydney and my six-month-old daughter Emma to the park. I pushed Sydney on the swings, helped her down the slide, played hide-and-seek, all while Emma was strapped happily to my chest in the Baby Bjorn. We were a picture of family bliss '- until it was time to leave.
I gave Sydney the five-minute warning (even though she's too young to understand the concept of time) plus a promise of an episode of Blues Clues if she was "a good listener." Sydney, waiving her right to watch a blue dog find her own paw prints, instead ran back to the swings and demanded that I push her. I decided to try another negotiating tactic, explaining that we had to leave because it was time to feed Emma. Apparently, Sydney couldn't have cared less if Emma went hungry, because she wouldn't budge. Now, I've seen enough episodes of Super Nanny to know that I needed to take back control of the situation fast, and I informed Sydney that she was in danger of receiving a time-out if she didn't leave the park with me immediately. She shook her head while clinging to the swing. I was left no choice but to pry her hands away from the swing and drag her out of the park. Sydney kicked and screamed at the top of her lungs as I made my way to the parking lot. Other mothers looked on with sympathy (and relief that it was somebody else's child) as I carried my flailing daughter with one arm while protecting Emma with the other. When we got to the car, I made several failed attempts to get Sydney buckled into her car seat, as she kept stiffening her body.
While I was resting from the car seat battle, a mother and her son got into the car next to us. "Terrible twos," I uttered, to explain the bloodcurdling screams coming from the back seat. She gave me a smile and said, "Wait until she turns three. You ain't seen nothing yet." As I watched her drive away, a very frightening realization hit me: It could get worse.