Toddler N. will be two years and six months old in less than two weeks. Two year olds, in my opinion, get a pretty bad rap. The age is associated with temper tantrums, willful disobedience and getting into all sorts of mischief. As I’ve been thinking about the last six months, though, the more I realize that the twos haven’t been terrible, or anything like it. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they’ve been pretty terrific. Here’s why.
He is picking up on manners and politeness.
Two year olds can be incredibly self centered, but between demands to be read to now, I’m starting to see N. use the manners that Carl and I model. I’m not sure if he’s saying ‘thank you’ or ‘here you go’ when I give him something, but the point is that he knows to say something. Also, I can’t think of many things more precious than coming home and hearing, ‘How was Pilates, Mommy?’ especially when it sounds more like, ‘Howwus Piwades, Mommy?’.
His imagination is starting to soar.
As N. is getting older, his play is moving beyond what objects are like (exploration) into the realms of the imagination. Unprompted he will pick up a box and run around, saying ‘Grocery Delivery!’ He will put on a hat and a cape and call himself a king (or a princess!). He will become despondent when his balance bike carrying his ‘pizzas’ falls over.
He is communicative and assertive.
Having a child who says ‘No, no no!’ isn’t usually considered a positive thing, but I’ve always been fascinated with N.’s self awareness. His ability to communicate wants and desires, even when they are contrary to what I want or expect, is a daily reminder that he is a whole person, an amazing, unique soul that has been entrusted into my care. He knows the books he wants to read, the snacks he wants to eat, whether he wants to be inside or outside. I can’t always give him exactly what he wants, but I really value the fact that he will tell me.
His long term memory is developing.
I do have to be careful with this – I can’t make empty promises when my two year old will hold me accountable to taking him on the walk he requested. Apart from that, it’s amazing to see his ability to recall memories. He asked for porridge for breakfast the other day even though it’s been months since we last ate it. He will talk about our trip to France that happened last month, and recall things that happened a few days ago. I keep thinking that one of these days he will experience something that will ultimately become his earliest memory – pressure is on! He is also gaining a sense of future events, and will ask me and Carl about trips we have planned or upcoming visits to friends.
His play is becoming more collaborative.
N., like all two year olds, has his fair share of moments where he is unhappy that his brother is encroaching on his space and trying to take the book or toy that he is playing with. Despite the fuzzy rules of toddler possession, though, N. is starting to play little games like ‘run and chase’ with friends his age. He invites his father or me to help him build houses or roads. He brings me imaginary cups of tea to drink. He will give his brother a toy (mostly to keep G. from taking his things). Through games and play like this, N. learns what it means to have relationships, how to interact with others, how to communicate, lessons that he will be building on for the rest of his life.
Having a two year old isn’t always easy. In fact, it is often challenging, but this phase of development is rapid and extraordinary to me. Roll on the rest of the terrific twos!