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Ode to the universal two year old

December 13, 2009
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Rose is exactly 2 ½. What’s that like you ask? It’s backwards pants, mismatched shoes, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” puddles of despair and then presto change-o: irrepressible glee over a handful of raisins.

I can’t help but muse about what life would be like if we adults still harbored a little “two” in us. We’d go to a party, see our friend, run over for a hug and then snatch her chicken satay skewer. Maybe we’d apologize; maybe we’d push her down. Next we’d stand under the sign stating “no nudity,” tug off our clothes while making sure everyone is watching.

Rose is such a tween, at 2 ½. She’s no longer on the floor with the lumpy babies marinating in their own drool, but like a pre-teen who plans a wild adventure then remembers she has to ask her mom to drive, Rose needs a lot of help that she doesn’t want.

This makes for tricky times, like when Rose insists on getting in her car seat and buckling up by herself. Great! Except, whoops, she can’t, and when I approach to help she yowls as if I’m baring pliers to pull her tiny teeth out. I’m sure there’s something creative and Montessori-like I could say to her, disarming the two-ness that keeps us stranded in the cold driveway. But the last power struggle, the one over the shoes, three minutes earlier, has chipped away at my polish. I breathe and pace, breathe and pace until Rose finally whines accusingly “I can’t dooooo it,” as if I had set her up all along.

Poor Rose. I know she’s just trying to figure things out, like “if I got Col’s muffin by hitting him and snatching it, will that work with my friend Iris?” It’s a valid question when many of life’s rules must seem so arbitrary (why don’t we eat box elder bugs?). Rose’s friend Chloe says in a fit of toddler indecision “I waaaant that cheese. No, I caaaan’t want that cheese.” I’m sure that’s how it feels: the pink hiking boots they loved yesterday? Can’t be loved today.

Two is really like living with a very short comedian. Like how Rose will peer into her carseat, screw her face up and ask “what all dese crumbs in dere?” Or how she’ll solemnly hand me a plastic bag containing one rubber band and instruct “you put dis up high so Coley don’t get it.” Sometimes I don’t even know how to answer her bizzaro questions, like when she opens a kitchen drawer, points to the rolling pin and asks “what dat rolling pin called?”

But we hardly take Rose seriously, that’s how it is with the second. When Col was all jacked up on being two I was full of “strategies.” When Rose stubbornly sweeps the walls with her small broom and you can hear the piped in toddler music crooning: “I did it myyyy way,” we just shrug and state the obvious: “she’s two.”

*previously published in The Durango Herald

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Barb permalink
    December 14, 2009 3:33 pm

    note to self: that girl needs more nail polish. Note to Rachel: sound like the flashing hormones of a certain 16 year old female I know (ah well, she’ll be 17 in less than 2 months)….

  2. Caraway permalink
    December 16, 2009 5:16 pm

    I love this one, Rachel!! I was chuckling all the way through. You make difficult mothering moments seem so FUNNY!

  3. December 18, 2009 4:35 pm

    Totally totally true! I love the bit about if we all had a little bit of ‘two’ in us.

  4. Nicky permalink
    January 28, 2010 8:59 am

    This exactly describes my two-and-a-half year old!

  5. Melissa permalink
    April 5, 2010 5:14 pm

    I love this. Of course, I am also living it, so it makes me laugh extra hard. And, um, I definitely retain some 2 y.o. in me. Like when we tell Avi he needs to calm down and he says, “I don’t WANT to calm down!” I can totally relate. I hate being told to calm down. Not my most enlightened feature.

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