My dear daughter you have grown so much this last year. I have not done well at keeping up with your baby book and milestones, but I want to take the time to tell you who you are at two-years-old.
This year you transformed from baby to toddler. You still alternate between wanting to be a baby and a big girl. You started the year with one or two words and ended it speaking in sentences. Words like dog, no, mama, dada, dotted your early vocabulary. Now sentences like, “me wanna see too,” or “Baby Tiger misses her mommy” spill from your mouth.
You’re fascinated with wild cats. Every night you sleep with Leppy, your stuffed animal leopard. Wild animal figures and dinosaurs fill your imaginary world. You also love Snow White, princesses, and castles. In a year developmentally defined by parallel play you have been pulled into an imaginary world of play with your big sister, joining tea parties, slumber parties, far away lands of Lion King, and pretending you’re the lost boy “Cubby” from Peter Pan.
You are my sidekick, my partner in crime. With your sister there was time for endless mommy and me classes. I try my best to do fun things with you too, but our mornings when your sister is at school are often filled with shopping trips, helping with laundry, cleaning, and bike rides around the block.
Your sister is your best friend. Everyday when we picked her up from preschool you rushed to her with open arms shrieking her name in happiness. She was so proud to have her baby sister greeting her at the end of each school day. You give her daily hugs. You tell her you love her. After naps you always ask to wake her up. She loves you enormously. You are her best friend too.
You are charming, social, and comfortable with the big kids. This past winter you started greeting your big sister’s friends at school on the playground, “Hi Grace, Hi Annie, Hi Ellen,” as you raced to catch up with them and pushed yourself into the line on the slide. I can already see the competition over friendships budding between the two of you.
Your emotions are electric, high voltage from one extreme to the next with no insulation to protect us from the shock. At this age your sister had a couple tantrums, but you throw many tantrums. You love to play outside and you often scream and kick when we must go in for the night. Your scream is loud and high pitched. You scream when my foot enters the room and you know that bedtime is approaching. You scream when your sister reaches to have a toy in your grasp. You scream when the dog comes too close to your food. You fight teeth brushing like a kick boxer. Your scream punctuates our days. You are strong willed. You make me fear adolescence.
Mid year your scream mutated to a roar. You became the wild tiger you adore. You roar at your sister. You roar at flies. You roar at ants. You roar at the dogs. You often roar at me.
You have a little gremlin voice. At two your voice often sounds as if you smoked a few too many cigarettes. It is so low compared to the chirpy voices of your peers. It makes me smile every day. To add emphasis you sometimes whisper the last words of your sentences, it works and I don’t think there is anything more adorable in the world.
I gave birth to the infamous biter that you read about in parenting books, fear to have in your playgroups, and look at and think “my child would never do that.” For a couple of months you bit. You bit your sister. You bit the dog, poor Cru I can still see the shock on her face. You bit your Dad. You bit me. I think and hope this behavior is finally fading, but I had moments of fearing your preschool future. Luckily, so far you’ve kept the biting within the family.
You are adventurous. You jump from the side of the pool. You put your face all the way in the water. You float on your back and look up at the sky, closing your eyes peacefully. You fill cups of water in the tub and pour them over your head. Sometimes you are surprisingly sensitive, “me scared mama” as we climb onto the train at the zoo. Some TV shows scare you. You say, “me scared” and grab my arm and bury your face in my shoulder. I’m impressed you articulate your fear. I love that you love to cuddle.
You are a daddy’s girl. You say, “Me ride daddy’s car.” This summer you’ve insisted, “Me want Daddy stay home and Mama work.” Sometimes your words sting, but I agree he is golden. I too love to spend my days with your dad. You, my daughter, are golden too.
You have your dad’s dark skin, dark eyes, curly hair, and my long torso. You dribble a soccer ball, shoot a basketball, and love to run. You spell your sister’s name over and over again. Starting at 18 months, you saw signs with letters on them and sang your jolted ABCs in recognition. You count to ten. You know your colors. You sing the months of the year song that your sister learned in preschool. You imitate your sister and have mastered language and ideas so quickly.
You are our welcoming committee, pure love and warmth. You shriek with excitement when your dad comes home from work and rush to see him. You exhibit joy whenever your grandmothers enter the house. You love your Zaidy. You run excitedly to give him the first hug and be lifted up into the air. You love your cousin (three months your senior) and have claimed him as “your own” since big sister has her own big girl cousins.
You talk constantly. Your mouth is constantly running telling us what you are thinking, what you are doing, what everyone else is doing, and what you were doing when your big sister was doing something else. There is no end to your stories.
This year you acquired a love of books. Your sister loved books from an early age. A year ago you did not want to focus on a story, you now love to sit and read. You love books that rhyme with musical language. You love books about animals.
No label describes you. You are wild cats, triceratops, and princesses. You are playing sports and playing dolls. You are outgoing and the next moment you hide in my shoulder. You are giant snuggles and ‘leave me alones’. You are rough and tumble and pink fluffy skirts. You are impossible to capture in words and labels.
You teach me every day. You taught me that my parenting or lack thereof did not make your big sister a rule follower or cause you to throw tantrums. Our children are who they are, there is no singular parenting strategy for well behaved children. Parents cannot take all the credit for their childrens successes or all the blame for their flaws. You taught me not to take everything so personally. You taught me that parent preferences change, I can’t be offended if you want dad to say goodnight. You helped me to start to let go of my perfectionism.
I am so lucky to be your mom. You will press my buttons, but I will always be awed and inspired by your fire, spirit, and warmth. You are my firecracker baby.
I love you two-years-old.