It seems I have a comedian on my hands. Paige turns two next Wednesday and for awhile now, signs of the terrible two stage have been imminent. For the last few weeks, her day care teachers have been enlightening me with the latest Paige anecdotes. Yesterday, she actually rolled her eyes dramatically at one of her teachers when she was directed to do something she apparently didn’t want to do. And for days she’s been telling little fibs that Mama and Papa aren’t working, but are actually on vacation. She cracks herself up over this (unfortunately) very untrue tale she has invented.
As her witty personality emerges, so, too does her devilish side. I keep catching her mischievous eyes darting my way to see if I’ll notice the chocolate milk she is purposely spilling on the carpet or the marker drawing she is making on the table instead of the paper. And when I call her on it, she laughs. Regrettably, sometimes I do too.
It’s funny how every child approaches the terrible two stage with a different set of tricks. Abigail, who is now three, developed a talent for manipulation, unbeknownst to us at the time. When she was about eighteen months, we would read her a story before bedtime, but six months later, somehow, that one story multiplied to three plus a few songs and exactly three hugs, two sips of chocolate milk, and several trips to the bathroom to brush teeth or wash hands. She also managed to enlist us as short order cooks and personal servants – and once again, we were oblivious to her ploys until it was too late. We now find ourselves trying to reverse the curse, but often, out of sheer exhaustion, we pick the damn building blocks up ourselves rather than engage in a half hour long lecture on the merits of cleaning up one’s one mess.
But while each of my daughters came equipped with her own set of terrible two challenges, they both share the mother of all toddler challenges – selecting outfits to wear each morning. It is my own fault, I am sure since I, to this day, stand in front of my closet deliberating what to wear on a daily basis. Perhaps they have seen me do this and are rewarding me with the great compliment of imitation. Or, perhaps vanity is in their genes. Whatever the reason, mornings have become an absolute nightmare with two little girls fighting over the one pair of clean Aurora socks, Abigail refusing to wear a weather appropriate dress because it doesn’t twirl enough, Paige requiring a bathing suit and flip flops even though it is only fifty degrees, and the two of them deciding it would be a great idea to trade shoes for the day even though they don’t wear anywhere near the same size.
Yes, the terrible two’s are a treat. And for the record, they don’t magically end at age three. I have high hopes for age four, but by then, I expect I’ll have developed some tricks of my own. I’ve already learned, for example, that the best way to put a toddler to sleep is to stick them in bed, turn on the nightlight, and bolt ASAP. And this is the bedtime routine to which Paige is happily accustomed. By the time child number three comes around, he or she will be tucking me into bed, wearing whatever Mama says, and eating all his vegetables without any special honey dipping sauce required.
So next Wednesday, when Paige turns two and dives head first into her ice cream cake with a supersized grin, I’ll embrace the day and the challenging phase that is an inevitable part of growing up. Some moments will suck the life out of me. But I’ll learn from them and do better next time around. And if I don’t, at least I can laugh in hindsight – because while the moment itself may tempt me to lock myself in the bathroom and refuse to come out until they turn 21, five minutes later, all is calm again, and I can clearly see the humor. Until the next outburst.