My nephew is almost two. I don’t get to see him as much as I’d like, as he lives upstate, but every time I do I learn more interesting things about children. My knowledge of them is limited to babysitting many, many years ago, so it’s a little fuzzy, but here are some things I have learned about two-year-olds from hanging with the kiddo:
1. Two-year-olds are LOUD. Like, pitches and tones only caught by sensitive dog-ears loud.
2. Two-year-olds are opinionated about everything – both things that matter (“No! APPLE juice! Not ORANGE juice!”) and things that don’t (“I am NOT A MOUNTAIN GOAT!”) (OK, yes, I am aware that technically he is a child and not a goat. Only, he was head-butting things, and climbing up everything in sight. Hence the comparison.)
3. Two-year-olds think the world revolves around them. Which, ok, it kind of does, when you’re that age. You can’t really get anywhere, do anything, make any decisions, etc. yourself – someone is always doing something for you. So it’s a fair assumption that the world is there for your pleasure. Everything belongs to the kiddo. “My (insert item here – cell phone, water bottle, car keys, book)!” Even when his hands are full of all of the other things that are his. And he won’t drop anything that’s his. It becomes a toddler’s Sophie’s choice – what to take? What to leave? The matchbox car or the toy cell phone? Which? WHICH ONE?
4. Two-year-olds think someone will always be there to catch them. This is kind of a continuation of #3. We went to the playground (which – tangentially – is a horrorshow. There are a million places a child can be injured there. Was this as dangerous when I was young? How was I allowed to play there? Sharp things! Metal things! Things that move when you step on them – which only scared me, not the toddler, because I have a fear of the ground moving under my feet due to a childhood suspension bridge incident!) and there was a ladder. He almost stepped off into space, I think assuming that either his mother or myself would be there to help him with it. That kind of blind faith is both heart-swellingly touching and gut-numbingly chilling. (OK, stop freaking out. He didn’t step off, his mother was right behind him and asked him nicely to stop, he did, I stood on the other side of the ladder, and I showed him how to climb down it while gripping his little waist for dear life. But – very dangerous planning, playground. That ladder was my height, and I am 5’8. He is a wee fella! That’s like 4 stories to him!)
5. Two-year-olds are more dramatic than theater people. It is awe-inspiring, really. The tiniest imagined slight, or fall, and the level of hysterics is Academy Award-worthy. Also, the waterworks can be shut off at a moment’s notice. I think, instead of taking theater classes, we could all benefit by watching toddlers at play. That is dedication to one’s craft. I AM ANGRY I AM CRYING NOW I AM PLAYING AGAIN. AND SCENE.
6. Two-year-olds are capable of conversations that are not as one-sided as you might think. Example: “Cars can fly?” “No, kiddo, I don’t think so.” “Yes!” “No, not yet. Only on The Jetsons.” “Why?” “Because we were promised things in the future that have not yet come to fruition, I guess. It only gets worse from here. You have to learn to live with disappointment.” “I have car fly?” “Maybe someday. Maybe someday.” “I have car fly!” “Oh, yes, look there, your toy car has wings and I misread this entire conversation. Why does your toy car have wings oh ok nevermind now we’re going to throw candles on the floor. Cool.”
7. Two-year-olds have the attention span of a gnat with ADD who just ate an entire box of Froot Loops.
8. Two-year-olds – at least this one, I haven’t met another one who can, at least – have the amazing superpower of turning this bitter, jaded, sarcastic bitch into a smushy puddle of goo. You cannot, no matter how hard you try, be in a bad mood around this child. It is an impossibility.
So I guess what you can take away from this is: unless the two-year-old is yours, or beloved by you, it is probably an age you want to avoid, as it is loud and messy. Me, I’ll take it. I get to see the kiddo again in 6 days. I’m already gearing up for more conversations. I think we’ll tackle the meaning of life this time around.