10 Things I Learned From My Two Year Old Last Year (Part 1)…

My daughter will be three years old on Monday (insert obligatory “I can’t believe how fast it’s gone!” comment here). Two is a wild year, and she really started becoming her own person. She has her own thoughts, likes, dislikes, and plans. She’s no longer just a little cute lump that we need to care for. In a lot of ways, it allows us as parents to enjoy our kids more once every moment of the day isn’t simply fulfilling a necessity like we did in the infancy stage. We can play with them more, interact via conversation, and learn all sorts of fun things from them. With that in mind I present to you…

10 Things I Learned From My Two Year Old In The Last Year

10. Sometimes In Life You Have to Dance On The Ceiling… (Kids Are Absurd, Just Enjoy It)

One night, about two or three hours after we put my daughter to bed, we heard her crying. My wife went in to check on her, and the little lady was wide awake and upset. When my wife asked what was wrong, she told my wife she was sad. Why was she sad?

“The ceiling is so high mommy…”

“Yes it is…”

“BUT I WANT TO DANCE ON IT!!!”

With toddlers this kind of absurdity is a constant thing. You have to enjoy it, it’s an innocent absurdity that only a kid who has no idea of reasonable and unreasonable can achieve. We handled this request by telling her that she couldn’t dance on the ceiling, but next time she saw her tall grandfather he would help her do it. She went to bed happy, and we left the room shaking our heads and laughing. Obviously, next time she saw her grandpa, he turned her upside down and she danced all over the ceiling while giggling uproariously.

9. “Daddy, We Need To Talk…” (If It Is Important To Them, Then It Is Important)

My daughter came up to me at one point, and in a tone usually reserved for sitcom parents about to confront their teenager about drunk driving, said we needed to talk. I was completely confused, what serious topic could this little girl have on her mind that warranted such a somber approach? So I told her she could talk about anything with me.

“Daddy, have you heard about Minnie-rella?”

For those of you without kids (or lucky enough to have kids that don’t watch the Disney cash grab known as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse), Minnie-rella is a retelling of the Cinderella story. It has all the originality and cultural significance that you would expect. Top that off with the fact that Mickey Mouse Clubhouse has animation that wouldn’t be out of place in an 1980’s Dire Strait’s music video, and you have something that would be very difficult to describe as “important”.

 I hope you like that background, because they reuse it in functionally every scene.

That doesn’t matter though. Minnie-rella losing her slipper for some reason had struck a nerve with my daughter. She needed to walk through the story, and needed reassurance at the end that everything turned out OK because Prince Mickey found the slipper. This was important to her, and therefore it was important. Dismissing it would only convey the message that coming to me with certain things was OK, and other things were a waste of my time. She is never wasting my time, and I never want her balancing that in her head before talking to me. If she needs me to break something down for her, or just to talk about it then we will talk about Minnie’s slipper.

8. The Trampolines Are Closed… (There Is No Worse Feeling Than Letting Your Kids Down)

There is a trampoline park in our area that usually does a “Toddler Time” on Sunday morning. One Sunday, we got my little girl all excited to go. She was ready to jump and have a blast. We drove the twenty or so minutes out to the place, with a happy kiddo in back talking about all the jumping she would do, how high she would jump, and all the other fun she would have. Obviously, or I wouldn’t be telling this story with this headline, the place was closed. Apparently, it closed on every Sunday in the summer. My kid was really let down, and really upset.

We all know this isn’t a big deal in the long run. Kids need to learn disappointment, and if this is the biggest one I can think of, then she is living a pretty good life. That being said, I still felt awful. Of course things like the trampoline park being closed, or various other things can change plans. I’m not saying occasional incidents of the type are a big deal at all. However, it is important to remember, to your kids your word is gold. If dad says something is going to happen, then it is going to happen. The more they see you not following through on promises, the less they will believe you. It is important to keep your word to your kids as much as reasonably possible. Do not promise things you cannot deliver, and if you promise it, then you do it.

7. Hubba, Hubba… (Your Kid Is A Sponge, Be Careful What You Do)

One night my wife was getting ready to go somewhere, and was putting on her outfit. She was wearing a cute skirt and shirt, and I jokingly said “Oooo, Hubba, Hubba baby…” Because if I can’t make terrible passes at my beautiful wife, then why did I get married in the first place?

The next thing I hear is my daughter going “HUBBA, HUBBA BABY!” Although it was really funny at the time, it’s also a perfect example of how quickly and effectively kids pick up what we say or do. I don’t swear around my daughter, and for those who know me well, this is quite the accomplishment in its own right, but obscenities aren’t the only things kids pick up. This is the age where they really start to see what you do and make it their own. Do positive things and they will be positive; do negative things and don’t be surprised if they mimic that as well. Just don’t think they aren’t watching and learning, they are basically always on, and you are their biggest influence by an unbelievable amount.

6. “Daddy, Put Your Phone Down!” (It Can Wait, They’re More Important)

I am completely guilty of using my phone or laptop too often. I try to be conscious of it, but I also get caught up in doing things on my devices that keep me distracted. Some of these things are legitimately important, and some less so. However, I try to make sure I give my daughter plenty of time without distractions. I am not anti-TV or screen time in general, but if it is limiting our interaction with our kids than it is too much.

This extends to all activities we do as adults, if your kid is around, then time with them is the most important thing. We all have busy lives, and most of us don’t get to spend all that much of those busy lives with our children. It’s usually a few hours a day at best, and we owe them our attention during that time we spend together. I know what you are doing is important, and it needs to get done. However, is it really so important that it must be done that moment and not later when the kid is sleeping, or another time that hanging out with them isn’t an option? Occasionally the answer will be that it is an immediate need, but I would bet that generally it is not. Just try to remember that when they want you to put your phone down and hang out with them.

Since this has become a longer post than anticipated, I will do the second half of the list in the next post later this week…

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