The terrible twos, that is. They arrived at our door promptly the Sunday evening after Addy's second birthday party, and appear to have brought all their luggage with them. They are settling in for the long haul, introducing us to furious, limp-bodied tantrums, endlessly dragged out bedtimes, and the desperate determination to do everything by herself. EV-ER-Y thing. No matter if it takes twenty minutes to buckle a pair of shoes, or if she clearly lacks the fine motor skills for a particular task and will only end up in a heap on the floor, weeping, because the milk carton was too cumbersome for her to lift into the fridge. These things are only annoying setbacks which we must power through, because, doggone it, Adelay is a big girl and she does not need our help!
I am also the last few days remembering something Catherine Newman once wrote about her son Ben when he was around three. It was something like, "You know what I just love about this age? Ben's all, 'Oh, however you want to do it, Mom. We can do things in whichever way, on whatever schedule you want. I'm cool.' In opposite land!" (Obviously, the way she said it was funnier, but I don't feel like digging through years worth of Ben and Birdy archives to find the exact quote.) The point, however, is there loud and clear: toddlers are the most particular, persnickety, dare I say OCD people on the face of the earth, and often over the most bewildering issues.
If Addy kisses one person, for instance, she must kiss everyone else in the room as well, and sometimes a few of the inanimate objects get kissed too just for good measure. If I get up from the table to get myself a napkin, she must have a napkin, and then wipe her perfectly clean face and hands just as I have done. If I go to the BATHROOM for one second of privacy to PEE, she is compelled to follow me, drop trou, and demand her own piece of toilet paper. She then sits on the potty for one nanosecond, depositing nothing, before jumping up to help me flush and to congratulate me on my own pottying success.
She wants to snap her own shoes, put on her own socks (inevitably a failure,) buckle her own stroller and carseat straps, buckle ELI'S stroller and carseat and bouncy seat straps, pour her own milk, brush her own hair, push the grocery cart instead of riding in it, carry the giant diaper bag, dispense her own cereal and syrup and orange juice... Pretty much any task which would be messy or painstakingly tedious or just clearly impossible, she is willing to take on as her own personal mission. And there are parts of this that are a delight. It is fun and fulfilling to see her growing independence and to watch her learning new skills.
Yet she is still so much my baby sometimes, too, chewing her hands to ease the pain where her final teeth are emerging, smiling up at me and calling ni-night in her sugary-sweet baby voice. Running through the house with her comical, knock kneed gallop, her blond ringlets bouncing wildly behind her. Laughing with the same glee at the hundredth repetition of peekaboo as she did at the first. Melting down and crying with sheer exhaustion when she misses her nap or is up too late, and having to be carried to bed, sobbing and hysterical over, just for example, an applesauce cup.
I think this age in childhood is perhaps the best of times and the worst of times, emotionally speaking, and it sometimes feels like the pendulum swings sharply between the two (frustration! delight! exasperation! heart-warming pride!) at least a dozen times a day. Anyone else feelin' the love?