Last night, I let you have dessert, even though you didn’t really eat your dinner. I turned the other way when you drank your bath water, and I pretended not to notice when you dumped an entire bucket of water on our tile floor.
I held you a little tighter.
I read you an extra bedtime story.
Because last night was the last night you would be two.
I knew it, and I think you knew it, too. After all, you kept telling me it was your birthday (and that you were already three). As for me, I just wanted to cherish every minute. I wanted to soak up every last second of your second year.
Make no mistake: two was a tough year. A trying year. We potty trained (well, more accurately, you peed in on the floor — a lot — and most days I had to remove a “turtle” from your pants). You decided vegetables were the devil, as were all green foods. You learned the art of negotiation and the power of a tantrum. You learned the word “no” (my god, do you know the how to use the word “no”) and you learned how to push your parents buttons — which is to say that you’ve learned hiding in your tent at bath time pisses your father off to no end and ignoring your mother is flat-out infuriating. (As is asking for a grilled cheese sandwich but then saying “no, me no want it. I want Froop Loops.”)
But you’ve also learned that if you I say “I sowwy” with honesty in your heart, and tears in your big and adorable puppy eyes, my heart will turn to mush. You’ve learned that if you laugh and smile while “acting out” you can get away with a lot. Hell, you could get away with murder, and the fact that you figured all of this out before your third birthday is maddening.
I love you, and love that you can admit when you are wrong, but it is hard to discipline you when you are giggling as I yell.
It is hard to stay serious when I ask if you want to go in time out and you say “yes” (and then sit yourself down in a corner).
But you’ve also come into your own over the last 12 months. You began pouring your own cereal and picking out your own outfits. Brown winter boots go well with plaid shorts and a polka dot shirt, and nothing quite says style like an orange knit pumpkin hat and flip-flops. You moved from your crib and into a “big girl” bed. You open doors on your own. And now you can come and go as you please.
You are running stronger and faster than you were this time last year — and further away from me. We’ve begun having conversations: you tell me about the “not nice” things your friends did at school, the alligator in your room, and you ask me questions like, “Why do I have to wear pants?” and “Why is it raining?” and “Why can’t I have ‘Charms’ for dinner?” (Lucky Charms, that is.)
You brush your own teeth and struggle to comb your own hair. You can count to 21 in English and to “crackers” in Spanish — cuatro, for those wondering — and you “read” to me. (You don’t read of course, but you have some books — like Goodnight Moon and The Watermelon Seed — memorized and you take great pleasure in playing “teacher.” You love to tell me stories.)
You are strong, opinionated, and fiercely independent: “No, I can do it. Let go Mommy, I can swim.”
Oh, and now you sleep past 6 AM.
But between two and three, you also became fearless. You will try anything and do anything — you’ve even gone on roller coasters. You often climb to highest point on playgrounds. You’ve tried to leap blindly into our porcelain tub, you’ve slammed your face against our coffee table more times than I can count (without shedding a tear), and you take great pleasure in being bold. I call you my “rough and tumble,” your teachers believe you are “more brazen than the boys,” and you are constantly making us gasp for air. You push boundaries while we collectively hold our breaths.
The only thing that terrifies you are costumed characters. The very sight of Minnie, Mickey, or Abby Caddaby will send your running toward your father, leaping into my arms, or hiding behind my legs.
But that is two, I suppose. It was an important year. A big year. A year of learning and rule breaking, of mental development and emotional growth. A year in which you began stretching your lengthening limbs, pushing back and pulling away.
But it was also a year in which you still needed me.
A strange year, in which you could go from staunchly independent to completely codependent in two-seconds-flat. One moment you would be screaming “let me do it,” and the next you would be asking for help.
The next instant you would be asking for me to comfort you and carry you and tuck you into bed.
So while you may no longer give me those second glances at daycare drop off; while your body may no longer sit securely in the crook of arm (even if it did, you would certainly squirm away), and while you often anger me with your attitude and scare me with your antics, I cannot wait to see what three brings.
Because if that was two, three is sure to be amazing.
If that was two, three is sure to be awesome.More On