TimeHop tells me that exactly a year ago today Patrick said his first sentence: “I got the ball!” It seems crazy that it’s only been a year because these days he’s never not talking. We have actual conversations with him. He knows how to argue his point (”a pond and water are the same thing, daddy” when Jason asked him why he kept calling a swimming pool a “pond.”), he knows how to stall (”three more books and some milk please.” every single night before bed), and has these silly tiny person jokes (”poop is from your butt! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!”). He asks a lot of questions. (Some are harder to answer than others. How does one explain “what’s far?” to a two year old?) (We said, “it’s over there,” and pointed down the street because that seemed like the most logical thing to say at the time.) And he has the most entertaining answers for all our questions. He has lots of opinions and thoughts and things he wants and he’s not afraid to speak his mind. All this in 365 short days. Phew.
He is also defiant as hell. I’m having a tough time figuring out the difference between “normal” behavior and actual bad behavior for a two year old. People are quick to give me the “that’s why they call them the terrible twos” answer when I explain some of the more frustrating of his behaviors. But, since I have nothing to compare it to, I still spend a lot of time overthinking our parenting and discipline approaches. (This is where I ask you, Parents of the Internet, for books about surviving the toddler years, etc.)
And all he does is run, run, run, run, run. I think I say some variation of “walking feet, please” or “STOP RUNNING IN THE HOUSE” about 400+ times a day. I know he thinks I’m trying to stop him from living his best life but really I just don’t want him to trip and smash his precious face on something. Toddlers have no concern for personal safety.
When I dropped Patrick off at school this morning one of his teachers asked how last week’s work trip was. As we were chatting she casually dropped in the “He missed you. I know he was having fun with Jason but we could tell that he missed you a lot.” I walked away from the conversation feeling something that I can’t quite put into words. Guilt isn’t right. I’ve never been one to participate in mommy guilt because it’s a waste of energy and time. But, it was pretty close. As Patrick gets older these multiple-night trips get harder and harder. I seem to miss him more than I did when he was a baby and I also know that he misses me. But I am hopeful that the missing me part will help him learn some important coping skill and how to navigate negative emotions. Maybe? Hopefully.
Parenting a toddler is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done and I’m thankful everyday for my village.