Our first Mars return occurs just a little after our second birthday. Its no coincidence that this is when the “terrible twos” phase begins. Mars is the symbol of independence and willpower – which generates bravery and strength but often results in anger and argument. That’s basically what happens in the terrible twos phase – the child becomes independent, losing their fear and desiring to explore and express their own will.
Thats a great thing, so why is it called “terrible”?
Its because the child hasn’t really learned the complexities of language yet. It takes three mercury returns before the human mind is ready for complex human verbal communication. The third mercury return happens in close coincidence with our third birthday. During the first mercury return the child becomes capable of organized thought and acquires the basic templates of rational intelligence. During the second mercury return the child becomes capable of utilizing words and similar abstract symbols, like numbers. But they can’t yet really put words together in complex sentences and paragraphs. So although a two year old can use words, you can’t explain things to them very easily – it takes a lot of patience from you and the child to explain anything at all. And a child’s life is just too exciting to be patient very often. Its not till the third mercury return that the human mind becomes capable of assembling words ad hoc, on the fly, into complex ideas and streams of thought. In other words its not till we are three that it becomes reasonably easy to explain things to us.
So, between the first Mars return and the third Mercury return – thats the phase called “terrible twos.” The child is old enough to be independent, brave, and self-motivating (via Mars), but not yet old enough to comprehend explanations of why he or she should do this and not that, and so on. After the third Mercury return, unless we (or they) are dysfunctional, our parents can begin explaining things to us, and it won’t seem so unreasonable that we can wait for five minutes for our cookies.
– Vic DiCara