Six years into this whole parenting gig, I find that my children are still teaching me things. But something special happens once they hit 2. Before then, their wisdom is like that of a zen master from whom you have to glean implied, profound lessons. But once the toddler years are in full swing, they become energetic, demanding little Yodas, clinging to our backs, speaking in a syntactically bizarre way, and filling us in on the parts of the world we're missing. Indeed, there are some things you can only learn from a 2-year-old toddler.
Two can be a difficult age, but it’s also so much fun. This is often the age where one day you realize, “Oh, crap! I just had an actual conversation with this kid. OK, so they only speak in four word sentences, but it was still a genuine back and forth for a while there!” Their personality has probably made itself known for some time now, but it’s around 2 when preferences and opinions come into play as well (for better and for worse), and it’s fascinating to see what they naturally gravitate towards. They will become more independent. They may become more defiant. It's all very exciting... and trying.
Amid all this developmental excitement, they will impart their toddler-y wisdom unto you. Here’s what you can expect to learn:
Remember when your kid was an infant and just sat there? Like, back before they could even roll over? And if you left them sleeping on a blanket on the floor while you ran to switch the laundry really quick, they would still be there, unmoved, sleeping on that same blanket on the floor? Well, 2-year-olds aren't like that. Moreover, every day they are capable of physical feats we couldn’t have imagined the day before. They’re like very small Spider-Mans. Spider-Men? Spider-People? Whatever, they’re dexterous and nimble AF and they cannot be trusted. Only 2-year-olds can teach you how many places it is possible to dirty and/or fall from. It’s kind of the worst, but also hilarious. My husband is 35-years-old and to this day his family tells the story of the time they found him taking a nap on the top of a book shelf.
Hey, did you know that the creature above isn’t a Muppet that came to life only to be subsequently cursed by God? Did you know it’s called an Aye-aye? Did you know Aye-ayes are primates that live in Madagascar? Did you know they have really terrifying middle fingers that they use to find and catch insects? Did you know that Aye-ayes are our friends and we need to protect them? Well, if you didn’t, then you don’t know a 2-year-old who watches a lot of Wild Kratts. Kids are damn sponges, and if they’re interested in something, they are going to take it all in. And they don’t care whether you are interested or not: they are going to tell you about it until you could defend a dissertation on the subject.
Not all kids latch on to animals (I just used this as an example, and also because my son did). Some kids will get really into cars (I know one child who would collect the brochures that you can get from Toyota dealers and read them like bedtime stories), others will become obsessed with dinosaurs. Point is, they are fanatical in their interests, and you will soon become an expert.
Oh, by the way, this trait doesn't stop once they hit 3. My oldest is 6 and there's literally no end in sight for this sort of professorial behavior.
Oh don’t get it twisted: you do not have to wait until they are 2 for them to interrupt sexytimes. Infants are basically really adorable birth control, because I swear to God they have ESP for when you and your partner want to get it on and that’s when they wake up/start crying. You may not even have to wait until your kid is 2 for them to walk in on you. But once they hit 2, not only will they walk in on you, but they will ask you what is going on and not let the subject go until you answer them to their satisfaction. You then run the risk of them talking to other people about what went down. Oh, and unlike your parents back in high school, who make a lot of noise whenever they move, giving you ample warning and time to shimmy back into your jeans before they open your door, 2-year-olds are damn ninjas. By the time you hear them (if you hear them) it’s already too late.
Every day, you will imagine your limit. Every day, you will find a new limit. Your patience is boundless. Your children sense this, but they cannot possibly grasp how very lucky they are that it is.
You will never know how fast you are capable of running until you see that your 2-year-old child has somehow managed to get their tricycle on the jungle gym, about 7 feet up, and start pedaling. At least I didn’t know how fast I could run until that moment. Your individual moment of realization may be different. Perhaps you see your kid pick up a bag of peanuts on the playground and they’re allergic to peanuts. Or maybe they’re slowing lifting a fork up to an electrical socket. Point is, your 2-year-old will continually do stupid sh*t and you are going to have to run to save them. Don’t worry, though, you will: you’re a mom. If a kid’s superpower is their ability to get into unimaginable shenanigans, a mom’s superpower is her ability to stop it just in the nick of time.
I swear to God, sometimes it feels like toddlers exist on air, sunlight, and their own limitless stores of self-generating energy. No matter how much of how little food you give them, there’s a pretty good chance they will take two bites and claim a full tummy. Those two nibbles of a cheese stick nevertheless provide them with the energy they need to run like a child possessed on the playground for hours at a time, and grow another five inches in three minutes, which means you have to buy them all new clothes. Again.
Do you know what goes with that dress you’re wearing? A pair of plastic Cinderella shoes. And an astronaut helmet. Also a dinosaur tail. You’d be an idiot if you left out your fairy wings. Complete the look with a stethoscope and a tutu and you’re set. There is nothing more fantastic in this world than seeing the outfits a 2-year-old chooses for themselves. Study them. Learn from them. When you’re really old you will be able to get away with doing this sort of thing again, and I hope you go for it. God knows I’m ready.
Before they hit 2, they really don’t know what’s going on. Once they’re 2? Holy crap, holidays are magical again. No longer is your primary concern how you’re going to avoid your Uncle Bart and his weird rants about the Illuminati, it’s about how much fun you’re going to have ensuring that your child has so much fun.
My husband once said that whenever our children want to play with him, he first thinks about how damn exhausted he is, but then immediately hears the song “Cat’s in the Cradle” playing in the back of his mind and fights a tear as he gets down on the floor and play whatever they want. It sounds cliché, because it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true: they’re only young for so long and we should take advantage of that while we can. So forego mopping for floor for a bit, you know it’s just going to get dirty in about ten seconds again anyway. Have an imaginary cup of tea while wearing a Batman cape.
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