You can't reason with a 2-year-old. At all, writes Mark Hotton in And Baby Makes Four.
You can teach them things, cute things, because they're like sponges - Uncle Reon has taught Zach that a rabbit makes a rifle sound (ch-ch bang) - but you can't reason with them.
You can show them things - how to jump through a sprinkler - but you can't reason with them.
You can keep them quiet, sitting on the couch, with a Wiggles DVD for up to an hour if you're lucky.
But, again, you can't reason with them. You can't tell them they can watch more Wiggles another time, because they have no concept of time. And that's what makes the parenting of a 2-year-old such a challenge. One minute they're all sweet and adorable - and suddenly they're stomping in the kitchen, waving their arms about, as if there's a demented bee-swarm attacking them, and emitting a horrendous screeching sound that drowns out even the loudest neighbourhood dogs. All because you want to fill the water bottle. Their water bottle. The water bottle they've just asked for more water for.
You can't reason with a 2-year-old.
I know they're finding it equally as difficult because of their inability to communicate. But Zach can ask for pretty much everything he needs. He just doesn't want to use his words to express himself or ask for something. He prefers a grating whine, despite us telling him to "use your words".
Unless it's 6am - then he'll be the chirpiest chappy around, more than happy to share his thoughts and sing us a song. In our room. While we're trying to sleep.
After a couple of minor meltdowns this morning, he's now happily sitting beside me at the dinner table, drawing with colouring pencils in his book, telling me which colours he's using. Completely adorable and cute - you couldn't ask for a sweeter kid.
But fast-forward an hour or so when he wants to watch the Wiggles DVD and it's a completely different story.
Of course part of the problem is the weather. Persistent rain makes it hard for him to get outside and burn off some energy. That's tough for a little guy who wants to run around. And it's also hard for him when he has to be quiet for his little sister, angelic Piper who gets all the attention from his mother.
Sure, we've tried to ignore the bad behaviour and reward him when he is good which, to be fair, is most of the time, and we've tried the time-out approach, but it's a bit difficult sometimes when Zach stands there and just says "no", quite emphatically, too, to anything you say.
I don't know when this phase will end - and I should make it clear he's not a little monster like some you see on those television parenting shows - it's just frustrating because, well, you can't reason with a 2-year-old.
Mark Hotton is a journalist juggling extra hours at work with home renovations while trying to reason with a 2-year-old. So he's a little tired.
» Mark Hotton is a journalist, amateur chicken fancier and on the adventure of being a dad of two.
- The Southland Times