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Dear Cee: Celebrating the Two-Year-Old You

IMG_4158A much belated letter to Cee, in honor of her 2nd birthday. I swear I started this just a day or two after her birthday, but that was several weeks back. I’m just beginning to catch up on things as I’m winding down the college teaching term.

Dear Cee,

You are two. Can you believe it?

Of course you can. You are two, and you just are. You may not remember, as I do, what it was like when we met for the first time. (What’s funny to me, thinking back to that day, is that it seemed you already know me. It took me some time to get to know you.) You may not remember those early days of infancy, two years ago, when you and I both had to work hard just to communicate with each other, just to begin to speak the same language. You may not remember those days, but they are at the foundation of who you are and who we are together: mother and daughter.

I remember those days well. Thinking of them, I can’t help but be amazed at how much we’ve both grown. Your growth is obvious, mine subtler.

But I’m struggling with how to describe the changes in you, now that you are two. It is tempting to say something like, “You’re like a real person now!” or “Finally we can actually communicate.” But of course, you’ve been a real person from the start, and we’ve been communicating since then, too. That leaves me wondering: what is really significant about being two?

I think I’ve finally put my finger on how you’ve changed the most. Maybe we’ve been communicating all along, or at least trying our best. But what’s different now is that you’re able to communicate your inner self to the rest of us. This is where your imagination gives way to pretend play. It is where you store your memories, written in your own words. With language, you can share these inner worlds, and that’s what I’m enjoying most about the two-year-old you.

On Thanksgiving Day morning, crisp and clear, we walked to a park. You found a little acorn cap and handed it to me, saying matter-of-factly: “Bowl.” I agreed. Then you placed a few tiny pieces of bark mulch inside the cap. “Food!” And then you handed me a stick: “Spoon!” I love being invited to a world where getting dinner on the table is as simple as kneeling in the dirt with an observant eye.outside

This year, you loved receiving birthday cards in the mail. Each one was a valued gift that you opened, studied, and admired. We stashed them in a special place in the kitchen and added to your collection as they arrived. A couple of weeks later, you pulled them out and sorted through them on the kitchen table. Then, you started singing “Happy Birthday” and clapped your hands. Cooking dinner, I was privy to your happy memory.

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Like most 2-year-olds, you are confident and independent. This is not so much a change as it is something that has grown over time. I saw this in you when you were an infant, learning to roll over, and a year ago, when you explored gravity by climbing up and down a hill for an hour. Those were important tasks, and you needed space to experiment and figure them out for yourself. These days, you’re working on more everyday tasks, but they are just as critical.

For example, you are determined that you will dress yourself, and no amount of nay-saying from me will discourage you. If I start to help one leg into your pants, you will declare, “NO, you!” (What you mean is, “No, me!” but you haven’t quite figured out those pronouns.) Then you will actually pull off the pants and start again. One day, I was so impatient that I had to send myself out of the room. “OK, you work on those pants, and I’ll be in the kitchen if you need help.”

Five minutes later, you waddled out to the kitchen with your two legs in one pant leg. We laughed, and you were happy to have my help getting straightened out. But of course, you’re getting better and better at dressing yourself, and the only way to learn is to keep trying, even if that means lots of mistakes. I SO admire your confidence and determination. You are grounded in who you are and so certain that you are a person who is capable of dressing yourself that you are not afraid to keep struggling. I think that in this regard, we grown-ups could learn a lot from you two-year-olds.

What about me? How have I grown? Thanks to you, I’ve slowed down. I have learned that rushing a two-year-old is a futile effort, and we are better off enjoying the process, since it will probably take a while. I try to get around this fact all the time, but you are here to remind me every single day. A walk across the park is not about reaching the slide in record time. It is about what can be found between here and there. And getting dressed is not about the being ready to leave the house. It is about working on a new skill. And what is life without learning new things? In admiration of your gumption, I’m working on cultivating my inner two-year-old, too.

Thanks for the inspiration, Cee.

Love,

Mama

23 Comments
  1. Happy birthday to the little cutie!

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    December 5, 2012
  2. such a sweet letter 🙂

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    December 5, 2012
  3. Made me cry! She sounds like such a wonderful little human being : )

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    December 5, 2012
  4. I’m curious why you think she means “no, me” when she says “no, you,” Do you think she’s trying to say not you or no help from you. My niece said “I do it” when she was small so it was clear what she meant, but I’ve heard other children say “no, you” and mean “no thanks I don’t need your help.” Just curious.

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    December 5, 2012
    • Cee uses “you” to refer to herself often. She’ll often point to herself as she says “you” – so I think that in this case she’s saying, “No, I want to do it.” I do think this confusion of hers is unusual. None of the other toddlers in her daycare program do it, and Beyond Baby Talk says that toddlers usually figure these pronouns out quickly. I’m not worried, but a little interested in when she’ll get it straightened out:)

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      December 5, 2012
  5. Wonderful. Your blog is so heartfelt. Thank you for sharing Little Cee with us. As a mom of a 7 year old girl, I can promise you that the strategy of leaving the room will serve you well!!! My son is the same age as Cee, but not so verbal, and has just started to do pretend play. The bathtub has turned into his little coffee shop. He hands me cups of “hot coffee” and we pretend to drink. So cute.

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    December 5, 2012
    • Cee is also very into fixing coffee and tea. Milk? Yes, please! It is so cute. She usually wants to fix me a cup of coffee at her daycare before I leave her in the morning.

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      December 5, 2012
      • She must be settling in just fine there 🙂 I bet she loves her little friends!

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        December 5, 2012
        • She does! They are like a little family now. She talks about them all the time and is excited to go there on childcare days. It has worked out so well.

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          December 5, 2012
  6. Your little girl is very very pretty 🙂 And I love reading about her progress. The way a baby grows… those small, precious moments of growing up that seem so unbelievably cute! And yet, are so meaningful to the baby.. I have a nephew, I was 14 when he was born, I’ve been watching him and now he’s almost 4.. It’s incredible, his growth… The things he learns the way he picks up words and acts….. that just amazes me.
    Happy birthday to Cee! 🙂 I pray she grows up to be a beautiful girl from inside out.. Best wishes to you and your family.

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    December 5, 2012
  7. My daughter used the second person pronoun to refer to herself until she was about 2 1/2 years old. (My favorite utterance of this type was “Daddy, get the pomegranate out of your nose!”) When you think about it, this is not surprising: when you talk to someone, you use the second person to refer to them, so it’s natural enough for a child to assume that “you” is their name. This is probably one of the unconscious reasons that so many parents avoid pronouns when speaking to young children, e.g. “Tell Mommy what you want.” When my daughter did make the switch to the correct usage of first and second person pronouns, it happened quite suddenly — according to my notes, she switched over completely during the course of a week.

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    December 5, 2012
    • Oh, this is good to know! Thanks for this comment. It isn’t surprising at all to me that these pronouns are confusing – what surprises me is that it seems a little unusual for toddlers to struggle with this. There have been other words that Cee has used that were incorrect, like calling books “up” (don’t know where that came from, but she used that word for a few months). Then all of the sudden, they’re books!

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      December 5, 2012
  8. I miss writing letters to my babies. I got out of the habit when my third turned two. This makes me immediately want to again. 🙂

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    December 6, 2012
  9. Just last night I was teasingly cradling my newly-two-year-old son like a baby, spinning around and around, when I stopped short (and nearly sent him flying like a football, but whatever). I couldn’t believe it. His face, it looked so much like it did when he was an infant that I was brought back to a night when I went into his room because he was crying, scooped him up, cradled him so, yet when I looked at his face as big as the moon I saw that he was smiling at me, laughing, not crying…It’s one of my favorite memories. And here he was, two years later, in my arms again laughing but with these long limbs bubbling over…Thank you, I enjoyed this. Happy Birthday!

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    December 6, 2012
  10. awww she’s so cute 🙂 i love that she’s determined and independent,and that you’re letting her figure it out. all too often, that is not the case!

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    December 6, 2012
  11. very well written!

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    December 6, 2012
  12. What what a great letter to your little one… Happy Birthday 🙂

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    December 6, 2012
  13. You made me very emotional what a lovely letter to your girl! Makes me want to write one to my son about his first Birthday!

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    December 6, 2012
  14. mt #

    There is nothing more wonderful than a spirited, thriving child claiming her place in the world. Happy Birthday, Cee!

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    December 7, 2012
  15. This is so sweet!!
    Not completely related, but I remember when my sister turned 2 a few years ago (we have a HUGE age difference), we got her a cake. As my dad prepared to take pictures of her and the cake, she smacked her hand into it. It was a funny moment. 🙂

    Like

    February 1, 2013

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