The World of Two

two year old boy, smilingThe other night he had a dream and called out in his sleep: “I want my spider back! I WANT my spider back! I want my SPIDER BACK!

I waited a minute to see if he’d settle back to sleep on his own, but the demands became pretty clear: dude needed his spider back.

“What spider, sweetheart?” I asked him as I reached down into the crib to let him know I was there.

“I want my OWN spider.” he sort of sighed, even in his half-sleep grateful that someone was finally paying attention.

“I think you were having a dream, buddy. Want me to hold you in the rocking chair for a minute?”

“Yeah, I want you to hold me in the chair.”

So I did. And like every other time I’ve ever rocked him in the night, I thought about him. Middle-of-the-night parenting offers few perks and so many sacrifices (ever lain on the floor of your own hallway manning the door to your child’s bedroom to thwart an escapee? or sat on a cold toilet in a steamed-up bathroom playing iPad with a toddler who hasn’t stopped coughing in hours? NO!? I highly recommend parenting.), but one of the blessed upsides is the vacuum of time and space where there is nothing else to do but wrap your thoughts around the one in your arms.

I have such a sympathetic heart for two-year-olds. All the time? No. At the appropriate times where that sympathy and empathy and patience and an extra pair of arms and a shot of whiskey could really come in handy? I wish. But in the soft place where 2am snuggles and quiet breathing come to rest, I feel for him.

The world of two is a world where you just want your own goddamn spider. You ask, and no one listens. They don’t understand your words, or they do but you’ve repeated your request so many times that it falls on deaf ears. Or they listen, but they have no idea what you’re talking about, and your ability to explain hits a dead-end somewhere between I want THAT spider! and MommyNOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!. And so you give up, and they give up gratefully, and you add one more defeat to a collection filed under Being Two.

You look around and all you see are giants – a forest of pant legs and people who move faster, more purposefully than you do. You want up, so you start tugging, whining, until somebody sighs and lifts you up where you can at least see what they see. And then you want down, because you aren’t a baby anymore and you need to RUN. And then you fall, because even your sister is bigger, faster, abler than you are. And when you get up your hands are dirty and your pants are dirty and someone is there wiping you off – always with the wiping you off! – and you’re off again, chasing your future as a more capable kid and landing, again and again, in a heap of Two.

The world of two is a struggle between needing and not needing. Figuring out and failing. Making yourself understood and living in a world where no one understands.

But in the rocking chair the other night, I understood. And he understood that I understood. Being two isn’t that much different from being any other age; it’s all just right on the surface, out in the open, the live-streaming emotion and the real-time drama of being a human being.

And as far as I know, you can’t opt out of two – as a parent or a kid. You can only get through it, together.

two year old boy, smiling

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13 Responses to The World of Two

  1. Bryan November 9, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    Amazing…you, this post, everything…thank you!

  2. Jessica Williams November 9, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    What an amazing, encouraging post girl! Loved to read this! Such a great way to look at the TWO’S. :) xoxo

    • Sarah November 9, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

      Thanks, Jess! :)

  3. Lisa November 9, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    So little TWO guy was having a snack at my kitchen counter the other day and wanted something. I couldn’t figure out what – was it his mommy, his “dude” plastic figure guy, more milk, WHAT???? He cried until he was hiccuping-crying and my heart was breaking for him and ME! Turns out he wanted another flat thing that’s like a fruit rollup but is flat and I still don’t have a name for it and neither did he. It’s really hard when neither of us know the name of the thing that’s the most important thing in the world – right then. Loved the post…

    • Sarah November 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      It’s always over something small, right? A fruit-leather-thingy? Lucky he has you. Love you.

  4. Beth November 9, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    I just cried a little bit thinking about those quiet middle of the night moments. Your writing plus my hormones are a dangerous combination!!! So good!

    • Sarah November 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

      Thank you friend, for always reading. xo

  5. Jordan November 9, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    Annnnnnd now I’m crying. Thank you for putting this into such beautiful words, Sarah. My two year old will likely be my last, and even though it’s so hard sometimes, I really treasure every second. xo

    • Sarah November 9, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

      Oh, thank you Jordan. It’s hard not to love them, right? I mean, also SO HARD to love them sometimes. You know what I mean. :) xo

  6. Kristen @ Motherese November 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    Loved this, Sarah. So beautiful and so true. xo

    • Sarah November 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      Thanks, Kristen. xo

  7. erica @ expatria, baby November 12, 2012 at 7:23 am #

    You know what, I kind of love two. It’s something about the birth of language, the flicker of reason, the hint of future mutual understanding all encapsulated with a head-to-arm ratio that is still so adorable and huge.
    Two-year-olds hint at what’s to come; they give a glimmer of the person they’re learning how to be. Yes, two-year-olds freak out about ridiculous things, but the questions they come with are often easy, and the answers are pretty black and white.
    The positive feedback is much greater in a two-year-old than it is in an infant, at least I think so.
    Anyway, two. Yeah, it’s hard (I tell my girl all the time, “being two is hard, isn’t it?”) But it’s also a lovely time, one I, personally, do not think is a bit terrible.

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