When we first discovered we were becoming parents not only were we super excited as we had been trying for a while, but I pitied my unborn child. Between my years spent as a teacher in the Juvenile Justice System and my course work with child and adolescent development and psychology this kid had little chance to get over on us.
Was my ego wrong!
The first few years appeared like we had this parenting thing down! Our son slept through the night at 4 months of age; going to bed by 7 PM and waking up around 5 AM for food and a diaper change going back to sleep till 7 AM. He took one two hour nap every day. He was eating solids by 5 months and ate everything we put in front of him. Everyone commented on how well he listened once he became mobile. He never tried butting strange objects in his mouth or eating random food bits he would find without checking with us first. He always stayed next to us when we would go for walks but have no fear with playing with others. Our parenting ego inflated!
Around our son’s second birthday we found out we were expecting again, yay! Then our son’s Id and ego started to show. Many people call this the terrible twos, horrible threes and the horrendous fours as these two Freudian developments battle for control. The Id are the emotional melt downs when they don’t get their way, the crying, screaming, running away all emotional and instinctive responses to life that revolves around them but not really . . . and it drains every rational molecule from your body.
Gone is the ability to offer Montessori life lessons of choices, this is what I (the parent) want and this is what you (the child) don’t want. Gone was the ability to follow simple directions. Gone was the ability to have a bad day because they think it is because of them. Though it is not all bad.
With help of the ego comes the cuddles and kisses, funny jokes and silly antics. We welcomed the ability that if I do good, good things happen and I get what I want.
For us, going through this stage and having a new born all while I lost my job and began the search for a new one was a bit much. We weathered it well but it took it’s toll.Now that our son is turning 5 in a few short months we are starting to see his superego emerge and I love it!
We always tried to instill the concept of thinking of others, doing for others without thought of the return. He came with me to volunteer events and to make donations at shelters and food banks. We have a box in our home to set aside toys for kids who don’t have any and began running races raising money for charity. But during the ego and id stage everything is about them!
Before If I was getting frustrated that it was taking 5 minutes just to exit to the main road from our development my son would start to cry because he thought he did something wrong, now after months of explaining that Momma is frustrated with the traffic not him he starting to get it!
The other day i was working on a project for an upcoming event while he played in the same room. I become frustrated that I could not get my project right and let out a little growl of frustration. Previously he would have started crying loudly thinking I was mad at him. This time he stopped playing looked at me with a serious face and said, “Are you mad at me?” When I said no I was having a difficult time with something I was doing and needed to let the frustration out he said OK and went back to playing. It made me so proud of him I stopped what I was doing and played with him . . . causing our 2 year old daughter come on and see what is going on.
Looks like we have one entering the Superego stage and another fully mired in the id. Here is to hoping I learned enough coping skills to get through the next 2-ish years!