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Last weekend, my brother-in-law and 2 1/2 year-old niece came to visit (my sister-in-law stayed home with new baby Frida). Leo was beyond thrilled. He screamed their names all day, and still wakes up from naps wondering if perhaps they’ve returned. His cousin Lucy is a great influence, what with all the talking and reasonable interacting, and the independent playing, and the cousins got along very nicely together and really had fun.
Of course, Lulu is 2 1/2. Every time we hang out with her I feel like I’m getting a sneak preview of what to expect from Leo in the next year. And this time, I really can’t imagine what it will be like to parent a two-year-old.
When I asked my brother-in-law, Jonas, he used the phrase “walking on eggshells.” Now Lu is a darling and sweet person with some of the cutest mannerisms on the planet. Ask her if she’d like some hot cocoa and she’ll say “oh sure!” Ask her if she’d like to finish her dinner and she’ll say “oh no, I’m fine.” She’s also a very precise little being at the moment, who will nudge her glass back into place if you’ve pushed it over a centimeter, who will insist on choosing which room of the house to get dressed in, and who will blow up without warning if you reach in to help her do something that she’s trying to figure out for herself. For the most part, she saves this special treatment for her parents, which leaves us to enjoy her—and to wonder how we’re going to hold up when we’re the parents of a two-year-old.
Eggshells sounds about right, but I still can’t imagine it. At 1 1/2, Leo has his blow-ups (for example if you serve him a bowl of cobbler when he’s decided he’s like to just dig right into the entire serving pan!). But he is still mostly distractible and fairly resilient. And the joy of beginning to understand how things work is a constant reward for him. Sitting around the table eating cobbler with his family, Leo couldn’t be more pleased just to realize that we’re all doing the same thing. “Cheers!” he says repeatedly, “clinking” his sippy cup against our tea cups (ok, it sounds more like he’s shouting “douche!” but we know what he means).
I remember when Lucy was particularly into the whole “cheers” thing, back when Leo’s big new skill was swallowing solids. The socialness and comprehension that Lulu’s behavior reflected totally bowled me over at the time. Wow, I kept thinking, I can communicate with this little person! Now that she’s old enough to ignore people when she wants to, and she’s obsessed with being in charge, I keep thinking, how am I going to handle this when it comes my way?
The New Year promises a lot of changes for Leo, and therefore for us. And come spring, we’ll be celebrating our boy’s second birthday. Between then and now, I’ll try to pick up some more pointers from my in-laws on the patience and tact required for what lies ahead. And as soon as the holidays are behind us, I plan to start researching preschool.