Opinion: Dear parents of 2-year-olds
Let me start by saying how very sorry I am for your present “situation.” Though I have been through this phase with my own children, I had forgotten just how stressful, both mentally and physically, keeping a newly-minted toddler alive is.
I’ve spent the better part of a week with three of my nieces – twins who just turned 2 and a 20-month old singlet – and I am downright exhausted. My house is a disaster, my new mini-van has been dutifully christened with spilled Goldfish and half a box of Kleenex, and my thankful prayers to Mother Mary for having children old enough to fend for themselves have increased tenfold. I thought I’d successfully block this own period of my life, but with this full immersion into parenting precocious rug rats, traumatic memories are returning at an astonishing rate. My mantra for the past few days has been, “Find a happy place, find a happy place,” while trying hard not to suck my thumb.
But you don’t need to hear about my experiences; you’re actually living them right now. Every nap waylaid by five minutes of shut-eye on the way home from Kroger; every cell phone snagged and thrown to the tile floor; every near-drowning and third-degree sunburn at the water park; I could go on and on. Your entire life is being dictated by a funny-looking short person who can barely speak, and who doesn’t give a full diaper about you getting a good night’s sleep or a peaceful dinner out.
They really are the most selfish creatures on the planet, these tiny 2-year-olds. Your entire day must revolve around their feeding times and nap times and bath times. In between all the “times,” you must stand constant vigilance lest they decide to explore the toilet or scale a bookcase. And if you parent like my sisters, you bear the added burden of feeding your kids healthy food and entertaining them sans television. (As you know, this isn’t really my style!)
I’d also like to apologize for excluding you from most of my columns. As related above, I do not recall most of 2003 when my twins were 2. It’s the brain’s way of healing, I think. Additionally, teenagers provide ample fodder so there’s little need to revert back to earlier parenting days.
Finally, I’d like to commend you on surviving each day with a 2-year-old, and to let you know that it will get better. Not soon, of course – I personally think the fours are the absolute worst – but eventually your child will be relatively self-sufficient and some semblance of a life will return.
So until then, peace out,