Ahhh… 2-year-olds. There is no sweeter gift to parents. I know, I know: You love the newborn stage when everything smells so sweet and all the baby does is let you hold her. Or you love the 4-year-old stage when the child can reason and do big-kid things. Or you love the school-age stage when the kids are more independent.
But you’re wrong. 2-year-olds are where it’s at.
When I was a babysitting teenager, the 2-year-olds were always my favorites (and got the extra cookies when the other kids weren’t looking). When my nieces and nephews were 2, I couldn’t get enough of them and I used any excuse I could to manipulate them into thinking I was their favorite. (Extra cookies worked for them too.) And now that I’m a mom, the year of the 2-year-old is my favorite year of parenting.
It’s the year when they start picking up all the knowledge around them and repeating it back in the most adorable voices framed by the most adorable cheeks. And you pat yourself on the back and say, “I’m an awesome mom. Look how smart my 2-year-old is. She remembered what happened yesterday!”
It’s the year when everything — I mean everything – is cause for a thrilling celebration. The celebration is best when the 2-year-old adds in some jumping. She first puts her arms in the air (and they still barely reach above her head — how is it that 2-year-olds are proportioned so differently? It must be the secret to their cuteness.). Next, she bends her knees until her big, diapered bum is almost touching the floor — and finally she propels her body upward, most often with an accompanying grunt or two. Sometimes both feet will actually leave the floor at the same time. Sometimes they won’t. Sometimes she’ll fall over from all the effort. And then everyone will laugh at her cuteness. She’ll laugh too because it’s the year when she doesn’t know to be embarrassed yet.
It’s the year when tiny arms can’t fit around her mommy’s shoulders for the hugs she gives so generously, but those hugs are still tight and powerful nonetheless.
It’s the year when — Oh look! A bird! — tantrums are stopped just like that.
It’s the year when her silliness is really actually funny because it’s just so miniature and new and cute.
It’s the year when she says things oh-so-wrong, and it’s oh-so-cute. A helicopter is an “apple cutter.” A camera is a “pickshures.”
Every day, my 2-year-old asks me, “Wanna go a zoo again?” Before I can answer, she says, “We see the elephants, the tigers, the monkeys.” While I agree, she says and mimes, “I’m a monkey! Ooh ooh ahh ahh!”
Every day when we drop her big sister off at school, she begs, “Mama… I wanna driiiiive.” She has a mischievous grin on her face. She knows the routine.
“No, you can’t drive. You’re a baby,” I respond.
“Mama… I wanna driiiive,” she repeats with that grin.
“When you’re 16,” I finally concede.
“Ok. When I sisteen.”
She’s happy and so satisfied with the answer.
The year of the 2-year-old is just like that: A repeat of the day before, but happy and oh-so-satisfied with life.