And now...I'm a mom.
When Sal was an infant, education aside, I was at a loss for what was normal (maybe I slept through those classes?), but now that he's a toddler, and starting to assert his independence, I feel like I am able to understand the "why's" of his behavior and it all comes down to him trying to test boundaries and become independent.
He wants to do things on his own.
My job, as his mom, is to make his journey to independence and autonomy possible with age appropriate (and maybe a few challenging) tasks that he can master without assistance. It also makes my husband and my life a bit easier.
Here's what we've done to help Sal gain some independence and pride in his abilities to accomplish tasks:
Toddler friendly snacks placed on his level that he can choose from.
Today he chose a tangerine.
And peeled it himself into an accessible garbage can.
Plates, bowls and sippy cups in a low unlocked cabinet. He can get his own cups and plates for mealtimes.
We turned off the hot water, so he can now fill his cup with water unassisted. The rule is that there must be a cup under the water spigot or he loses his privilege of filling his cup for the morning/afternoon.
A couple of 3m hooks placed at his level so he can hang his hat or jacket alone.
A bucket of easy to put on shoes. He finds the matching shoes but still needs help getting his foot in the shoe. Until he is ale to put shoes on easily himself, I plan to stick with Velcro closures. I really like pedipeds first walkers because of the tongue that flips out and wide Velcro closure. They slip on easily.
I've moved his weather appropriate clothes to the bottom drawer. He chooses his shirt and bottoms for the day. Sometimes they match, sometimes they don't. It's his style. His choice.
It's been really fun and rewarding to watch him exceed my expectations of what he is capable of at this age.
My hopes in terms of giving him tasks he can do himself is to curtail some of the tantrums and frustrations that kids his age often exhibit. Don't get me wrong, we still go through the daily tantrums (how dare I close the bathroom door--he was playing with the flusher!) but I think that the more he feels in control the smoother his late teen months will go. In just the last week of making the household changes above, we've had much smoother days.
Lesson of the day: never underestimate what your kids are capable of. They rock!