Oh, they warn you of the terrible twos.
Whispered tales of epic meltdowns and power struggles and refusals to eat anything that isn’t crunchy/orange/that one up there, NO, not that one, THAT one/insert the texture or color of your choice here, but please, leave room for corrections because it will change again in five minutes. This is the escalating battle of wills they promise you, along with the assurance that it will eventually pass. There is talk of getting out of bed twelve times to ask for another drink or another snuggle, the
screaming screeching wailing banshee call of two year olds everywhere, which may or may not be coupled with the ever popular, throwing themselves on the ground in a spectacular fashion.
There is a secret code of bonus points for doing this in front of strangers who silently stare, clicking their tongues at the obvious unruliness and your deficient parenting knowledge.
You will wonder how it is humanly possible for one miniature person to make that spectacular mess in the three minutes it took for you to bring the laundry up from the basement. Then, you will contemplate tearing your hair out as they flat out refuse to clean any of it up. There is also, of course, the extra twenty minutes you should have buffered into leaving the house because they will get themselves dressed, thankyouverymuch.
Or, maybe they won’t get dressed at all… you just never know, really.
There is usually a piece missing in this terrible twos speech.
The part where, even in your maddening state of chaos as a parent of an almost three year old, you will be dumbfounded daily. You will stand there mouth agape as they spell their name, or count something one-by-one, or stand on one foot. It’s as if you can see their brain working. And they look at you, as if to say, oh this? What’s the big deal? I’ve been doing this for simply ages.
You will develop an uncanny knack to hide your stifled laughter when she responds to your ‘we use good table manners’ lecture with an eye roll and fluttering eyelids while sighing loudly. OK. Fine. This looking away, eye roll, eyelid flutter is supposed to mean you can’t see her. But clearly, you not only see her, but also a glimpse of what age twelve holds for you and you start to realize that maybe two isn’t so terrible.
She will walk everywhere with determination, loud footsteps and cherub little arm swinging decidedly, laden with her plastic jewels or her brother’s Spiderman gloves. This one does not go quietly, no ma’am. She will sing Do You Want to Build a Snowman, through the door keyhole at her brother, complete with pause for him to say go away, Anna. She will echo her laughter running through the house. She will offer no apologies for being a gorgeous pirate princess one moment, and the superhero bad guy the next. It is undoubtedly, up to YOU to keep up.
Let’s color! Let’s stomp in the snow! Let’s read this book! Let’s read this book again! She will play bas-et-ball, while building a Lego castle, having a picnic, a tea party, no… a dance party! You wanna have a dance party?
Now, who-body wants to play with me? Who-body?!
You skip a second and she’s cupping your face sweetly with her chubby, sometimes sticky, hands to tell you something of utmost importance. Dis purple is WON-da-FUL, my fingers are boo-ti-ful! Lavender manicures and matching pedicures from her Aunt Lisey are chattered about for weeks. Or she’s throwing her arms around your neck for a tight hug and assurances that you are her best gir-wl in da universe. You watch her slightly reluctantly share something with her brother. Thank yous are remembered and sometimes table manners too.
And in those moments? You will turn to your spouse and say, “we seriously make the most magnificent human beings on the planet,” and mean it.