Dear Quinny, You’re Two.
Of all your years, I’d say this was a banner year for you. Teeth, walking, talking, sleeping, front-facing car seat – what more could we ask for? If that’s not enough, you’re exceeding our expectations in many ways.
First of all, you’re reasonable…most of the time. A partially reasonable toddler is like a slightly empathetic traffic cop: it’s a gift. We can often talk you off the ledge before a tantrum:.
“Quinn, we don’t have any more cheese sticks but how about these cheese cubes?”
“Noooo! Cheese STICK.”
“We don’t have any. But tell you what, how about these cheese cubes? Or, no cheese at all.”
“Noooooo! … ummmm…o-KAY.”
Of course, your will power is fierce and it often gets the best of all of us. I’m holding my breath a bit to see what the dreaded ‘Terrible Two’s’ will bring. We’ve seen glimpses of spectacular 30 minute tantrums. Then, when you’re exhausted from screaming, we hug it out and you quietly rejoin the world of the civilized. Then you do something cute, like slurp up a long strand of spaghetti and grin shyly at us. And we’re all, what ear-shattering, soul-sucking, hope-busting tantrum?
That fierceness shows up in your quest for independence. Your favorite phrase these days is, “I do it.” And then, “I did it! High five.” When we went to the Rocky Mountains, I remember starting the hike holding hands. At some point we got disconnected and when I reached for your hand, you gently swatted it away and said, “I do it.” Then, you walked by me with your arms folded across your chest. I stopped in my tracks, trying to process what just happened. These days, you want to climb into your car seat by yourself (much to my dismay as we are almost always in a hurry), you want to sprinkle salt on your avocado by yourself (inevitably licking your finger and sticking it into the salt container), you want to put your shoes on by yourself (putting the right shoe on the right foot is so overrated), you want to brush your teeth by yourself (which really just means you want to eat the toothpaste).
I go back and forth about wanting you to be more independent and missing your dependence. Lucky for me, you give me large doses of both so that it doesn’t take me long to swing from one side to the other. It’s a good thing you’re so likable. You’ve got this charm about you that is so subtle that people have to take the time to stop, be present, and notice it. When you meet someone new, you hide your face just enough so that you can watch them out of the corner of your eye. And then the corner of your lips lift up just a tad if they are patient for you. You say please, thank you, and bless you (your inflection matches the gusto of the sneeze). You have two laughs: 1) a giggle that lights up your face and fades into a mischievous smile and, 2) a full-on belly laugh that’s equal parts crow kaw and witch’s cackle. I love them both.
You’re tough. Despite your petite frame, you don’t often cry when you trip or bust your head. You’re fearless on the playground. When your brother puts you in a headlock to kiss you, you handle it like a pro-wrestler. We have a bean bag downstairs and you figured out how to launch yourself onto it to make it slide across the floor. You get mad at mosquitos and wag your finger in the air, yelling at them when you get bit. You can throw a ball. Far. You like to hop whenever possible. When you run, you pump just one arm because you think it makes you go faster. If we play our cards right, you just might be going to college on an athletic scholarship. Though I hope it’s not for soccer because I see those parents sitting out there on the field in the 100 degree heat and I’m all “helllllllll no.” Let’s try for tennis or volleyball. There’s shade and air conditioning.
The biggest area where you’re exceeding expectations is with your vocabulary. Even when you don’t know the words, you figure out a way to tell us what you want. Just today, you wanted to go into the garage to “Ride puh-poh. Ride puh-poh. Want to ride puh-poh.” After trying to convince you that there was not a police (poh-poh) car in the garage, I finally realized you wanted a ride in the jogging stroller – the PURPLE jogging stroller. You’re a parrot, repeating what everyone says. However, you do it in a way that makes me think you just might be making fun of us and we’re too dense to figure it out. I think you’re going to be a trash talker and I’m going to try to teach you everything I know. The best part about your verbal skills is that you can communicate your feelings and show concern for others. When I yawn, you say, “Mama tired?” When we told you that Mango passed away, you said, “Ba Ngoai sad?” It melts me. Also, you’re funny. Like that time your dad passed some gas and it got real quiet for a few seconds. He looked at you and you looked at him, and you said, “Aaaaawkward.” Nailed it! Drop the mic.
So it sounds like I’m just going on and on bragging about you. So how about this: you suck at eating. I’m not going to lie, it’s a big area for concern because I love food so much. Currently, Quinny-approved fruits are bananas, avocados, and tangerines. (Does apple sauce count?) Your vegetable list consists of broccoli, sweet potatoes, and anything we can hide in your carbs. If you could snack on nutrition-less carbs all day, you totally would. This topic is usually the cause of your glorious tantrums.
That aside, it’s been a banner year for you, Quinn. You’ve exceeded expectations. To be clear, we didn’t have low expectations of you. It’s just that it’s been such a fun ride so far that we might forget from time to time that you need more from us. For example, if you really want to get technical, all you got from us for your birthday was a helium balloon with an owl on it. (To be fair, you were pretty excited about it. Just sayin’.) Your toys are simple, your needs are simple, a hug usually does the trick, a soft song, a warm cup of milk, pretzel sticks, sitting on my lap. You don’t ask for much from us. I think I can learn a thing or two from you, Quinn. Your lessons for us are subtle but important:
- Why walk when you can hop?
- Why sit quietly in the car when you can sing?
- If you pay attention, you’ll see all sorts of awesome things, like construction trucks, birds, THE MOON!
- If you listen carefully, you’ll be able to make people feel like they matter.
- Try something new. Then ask for help if you can’t do it by yourself.
- Fall down. Get up.
- Be proud of your own accomplishments by asking for high fives.
You are reminding me to be present, be patient, be independent, ask for help, hug often, talk softly, laugh loudly.
Thanks to you, Quinn, it’s been a banner year for me too.