Coming up on my son’s third birthday has me realizing that unless life throws a very unexpected surprise my way, I have raised my last 2-year-old. As many milestones are, this realization is bittersweet.
For me, age 2 is hard. My son threw so many “two things” at me this past year that jolted me back to my daughter’s second year — oh yeah, I remember this stage. It’s an age of unprecedented growth and development. It’s an age where independence is developed and energy abounds.
It’s easy to look back at picture highlights and only remember the good. But, seeing as this is my last 2-year-old, I want to remember it all. I started making mental notes about all the 2-year-old things my son has done (and that I recall my daughter also doing at the same age).
Here is the list I came up with.
The thing about raising a 2-year-old is…
They are runners. And the more you chase them, the faster they run away.
They are messy. They will show you that it IS possible to smear yogurt from hair to toes in one sitting.
They are mischievous. No mom moves faster than the mom who realizes she hasn’t heard a peep from her 2-year-old in a solid five minutes.
They are fun. Their uninhibited laughs are contagious. They can make you forget all your problems with one flash of that toothy smile. They have the ability to bring out the inner child you forgot existed.
They are learning all the time. That word you really shouldn’t have said in front of your kids? It’s now your 2-year-old’s new favorite word.
They are emotional. Their range is really something. From sad to mad to happy in the span of 10 minutes. Multiple times a day.
They are pure. Still innocent to the evils and injustices of the world. You cannot protect them from the reality of society forever. But, you pray that you raise them as advocates for good.
They are honest. If you need a haircut, they will tell you. If you look beautiful, they will tell you that too.
They are kind. Most 2-year-olds are starting to understand other people’s emotions. If you are sad, they will check on you and try to make it better.
They are challenging. Think about it — 2-year-olds do not have the best communication skills. It can be hard to figure out what’s wrong, what they need, or how to get through to them. This is problematic.
They are friendly. A 2-year-old in a stroller will wave and say hi to every person they encounter.
They are explorers. The most mundane thing is a discovery to them. Explorers tend to wander. If you are the caretaker to a wandering toddler, side effects may include double eye twitches, mild insanity, rage, guilt, spontaneous crying, and hot flashes.
They are energetic. Always. All the time. No, really — nonstop.
They are fast. It takes them one minute to make a mess that will have you cleaning up for the next 20 minutes.
They are imaginative. Cardboard boxes and other inanimate objects take on magical lives when left in the creative hands of a 2-year-old.
They are destructive. You may think you prefer your books on a bookshelf, but your 2-year-old knows you really want them scattered all over the floor.
They are so stinking cute. Their cuteness saves them. It’s their best defense mechanism, really.
They are genuine. They will only hug and kiss you if they mean it. And when they mean it, they squeeze you with all the might their little arms can muster.
As the parent of a 2-year-old, I can tell you it is fun, exhausting, amusing, frustrating, and wonderful all at the same time. Age 2 gets a bad wrap for being “terrible,” but it’s really pretty terrific. It doesn’t last forever, so hold that dimpled hand, kiss those chubby cheeks, and gaze into those innocent eyes every chance you get.