Life can be challenging and unpredictable. And, if you’re parenting a two-year-old, you’re guaranteed this year will have plenty of both. That sweet baby who used to cuddle in your arms has not only learned how to walk but now he can run away from you—and fast. That little angel whose smile used to light up your world can now smile at you as she drops your phone—into the bathtub.
Personally, I’ve raised two men that have given me four beautiful grandchildren all currently under the age of six years old. I’ve seen enough to know the phrase “terrible twos” wasn’t invented without reason. There are days in this phase when “terrible” may seem like the only word to characterize the state of your home, your schedule, and your patience. This is the phase when a toddler suddenly explodes with personality.
It’s the moment they fall to the floor screaming because you cut their sandwich the wrong way. Or you bring them the milk they asked for, and they realize they really wanted orange juice. Or you tell them they aren’t allowed to do that completely irrational thing they were just trying to do, and the world suddenly falls apart. Yes, you will have moments this year when you stare, wide-eyed, at the determined child in front of you and wonder, What am I supposed to do with this?
The answer, even though it may not seem true in the moment, is really what it has always been: Love. Becoming a grandparent has heightened my senses to my grandchildren’s need for love. It’s funny, the way time gives us perspective. Love is the thing every selfish, stubborn, crazy-headed toddler needs most.
I remember when my grandson Amari was two he told me he loved me for the first time. Each time he said it, he put his whole body into it. It was like he couldn’t say it loud enough or strong enough. He just had to let me know that HE LOVED ME!
One day, as I was leaving his house, we started a back-and-forth shouting match to tell each other how much we loved each other. It was so passionate and so pure that I took out my cell phone and recorded him on video. Within days after sharing it on social media, over 26 million people had watched, commented, and shared the video. The video was shown on Good Morning America and The Ellen Show.
I know most people’s toddler videos don’t make national television. But that’s not the point. The point is there’s something about the love of a two-year-old that can capture the heart of a nation. And that love is inside your child too.
Sure, this year your toddler is becoming more independent. But that means when she shows you love and affection, she does it because she chooses to. When he tells you he loves you, he says it because he means it. And as the parent of a two-year-old, you’ll discover you have more love inside you than you ever knew possible. It’s a shouting-match kind of love that will see you through the tantrums. It’s a love that may catch you off guard as you find yourself captivated by this adorable, growing, bundle of personality.
For more blog posts and parenting resources, visit ParentCue.org.