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Why the Twos are Terrific, Not Terrible

Parents of a soon-to-be-two-year-old! Do people say "Uh-oh!" to you in a jokey tone when you tell them how old your child is? Never fear. As my son approaches his final months of being two, I've found this age to be my favorite thus far—terrific, not terrible. Here's why:

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  • He can tell me things. Yes, we sometimes skip right to the hysterical frustrated meltdown but I love that my son can tell me that he wants some milk or a cracker or is having a hard time getting his booster seat buckled. Being able to solve his problems right away instead of guessing at his needs is a huge relief.

  • He can do things for himself. Sometimes it takes forever to get his pants on, and sometimes the shoes go on the wrong feet, but having a kid who can start taking on some of his own duties is great for me and for him, because he's clearly very proud when he rises to a challenge.

  • He can do things for ME. They say that giving a child small tasks, like putting away laundry, throwing things in the garbage, taking his plate to the sink, instills him with a sense of pride and responsibility, and I think that's true. But more importantly, I finally feel like our relationship is marginally more equal. After two years catering to his every whim, yeah, I'm happy that Paul can help me out a little bit. Seriously, every little bit helps.

    Pretty soon he'll start worrying more about being cool and what his friends think and so we soak up this brief period where he's just living in the moment.
  • He's funny. This kid likes an audience and has figured out how to make us laugh: weird dances, silly lyrics to songs, interesting outfit combos: we love all of it, especially the way that for this precious moment, he has very little self-consciousness. Pretty soon he'll start worrying more about being cool and what his friends think and so we soak up this brief period where he's just living in the moment.

  • His brain is growing faster than his mouth is. It brings me pride (and relief) that our son knows his ABC's and can say his first and last name and what street he lives on, but my favorite moments are when he can't quite download everything that's in his head: the very serious stories he has for us from daycare that devolve into long nonsense rambles and the mornings that he "reads" to us from the books that he's half-memorized. This is a very sweet spot, between baby and kid.

  • We don't have to worry about him quite as much. I'm not sending my son out to buy a quart of milk and I'm not in love with his attraction to every high stool in the house, but I like that I can let him out of my sight for a few moments and know that the worst thing he's doing is making a mess. Plus, we have started to explain some safety basics, like looking both ways before crossing the street, and it makes me feel good to know that he's able to grasp some of it.

  • He's cuddlier. My son wasn't too much of a snuggly baby in his earlier years but this past year he seems to want more physical contact and I'm perfectly fine with that: big hugs to calm his tears, lots more holding hands, and an order from him that "you sit on my lap" at storytime. Plus, with the transition to the big-kid bed we actually get a full-body snuggle on before it's time for sleep.

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To be sure, we have our moments: this was the year he discovered throwing himself on the floor when he's upset. And I'm also aware that what makes two so great is possibly what makes three so difficult, as everyone promises me: I can tell him little lies that he'll forget about ("We're definitely taking that leftover birthday cake home!") or he'll agree to negotiate on things he doesn't really have to (someday he'll just refuse to take a bite of vegetables in exchange for some dessert). But maybe—hopefully—three will be just like two. A lot of bad press for something that's otherwise pretty great.

Image via Claire Zulkey

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