I’ve lost track of how many readers have asked for advice about two year-olds, because, well, two year-olds. Two is the heart of toddlerhood and the noisy swan song of babyhood. It’s no wonder parents dread it so.
But you guys, seriously, two isn’t that bad. (And I made it harder on myself by adding a newborn to the mix.) Looking at it in the rearview, the infamy of two year-olds really does seem undeserved. They still nap regularly; they’re ADORABLE; and they’re getting smarter but are still just dumb enough to fall for your parenting tricks (“Oh, look! A firetruck!”)
This is not to say that two is easy: it can be angsty and embarrassing and messy and infuriating, but more than anything else, it’s FRUSTRATING. Frustrating that they dawdle on the way to school, frustrating that they want to wear insane mismatched outfits, frustrating that they just can’t sit still and keep their hands to themselves. I used to let all of this make me really angry until I borrowed one of my brother-in-law’s mantras: Whatever, dude.
You want to run while the rest of the family is eating brunch? Whatever, dude. At least 50% of two year-old tantrums happen because they’re hyper or bored. Run it out, girl.
You want to make our morning coffee run dressed like Belle? Whatever, dude. Letting you make simple daily choices makes you feel powerful and less likely to flip out when I really must insist on you not wearing a princess costume.
I’m pretty sure the baby isn’t having a good time, but he’s not crying so, uh, whatever, dude. The foundation of sibling bonds?
Eat a burrito in your carseat? Whatever, dude. I’d rather wash a carseat than deal with a stage 5 hungry toddler meltdown.
Climb out of your crib? (1) No chance that fall would actually hurt you at this stage, and (2) you don’t have the cojones to actually jump. WHATEVER, DUDE.
See what happens when I don’t say “Whatever, dude?” I should have just let her nap in a wool sweater in 85 degree heat and chalked it up to a teaching moment.
You want to drink milk from a bottle even though the pediatrician says not to? Whatever, dude. Your teeth aren’t rotting and we all know braces are in your future anyways, kid.
Paint every white shirt in your closet? Whatever, dude. That’s what bleach is for, and getting messy is terrific for your motor skills and cognitive development.