My two-year-old is entering what some might call a developmental leap or a growth spurt or a wonder week or a . . . whatever. To me, it’s just another week of extreme fatigue and frustration mixed in with oh my god this is all rushing by so suddenly I can’t breathe I love him so much.
How do I know this thing is happening? Well, it started with sleep. Or, ummm, lack of sleep. As in, “it’s 2am and I want to play and watch TV and pull on your lip and pick off the skin.” (I know it’s gross, but that’s really what he did.)
And then came the 4:30am wake-ups, followed by the mornings lying on the floor crying when we said he couldn’t have a lollipop for breakfast. Or lunch. And then when he finally did get one, the lying on the floor crying that he couldn’t have three.
You get the picture.
Now sleep is better, but the growing, the changing, the explosion in his brain and his body—it’s still very much happening. He’s going to be two-and-a-half next month and if I remember correctly from when my first child turned two-and-a-half, this is when the fun stuff begins. And I mean this genuinely, in a way.
Yes, he is testing boundaries. Yes, he is running up the block from me when I tell him he needs to stay. Yes, he is walking onto the snow banks when we are trying to get his brother to school on time. Yes, he is trudging through the snow-filled empty lot next to our house even though it’s 3 degrees and he’s not wearing boots and I just don’t have the energy or the stamina to go fish him out again.
But the reason why is because his world is expanding. There is a beautiful world out there of snowy freedom and frozen frolicking. Before, he took the narrow walk to school, but now he’s captivated by all this sparkling stuff in the periphery of his vision.
Don’t we all remember those desires for true and utter abandon? When we just wanted and wanted and didn’t give a damn about what anyone else thought? That’s when we fell in love. That’s when we discovered poetry. That’s when we hiked through the mountains alone. That’s when we dove into the lake naked at night at the very end of August.
Oh, he wants and he wants and he wants. He is luster and light and longing. He doesn’t care if we have time for it, if he’ll catch frostbite, if his mother has been surviving on 5 hours of broken sleep for days, and just can’t chase him again. His passion is too high right now.
It will die down. We will find our way to talk about when it is and isn’t appropriate to have candy or snowy adventures. I will be relieved and rested again.
But all of it breaks my heart a bit. I wish I could just let him have everything he desires. Of course I know I can’t. I know it is my job to lovingly show him the boundaries of this world.
I look at him, two years old, with the fire beginning to ignite in his heart. His body pulling and twisting out of my arms. His is the passion we must all remember we have, even as we learn to be measured, cooperative, kind-hearted citizens of the world. He is our reminder never to forget this incredible charge we all have buried somewhere inside.
When I pick him up for naptime, as he drifts off in my arms, he calls out mommy, mommy, even though I am right there, holding him tight. All morning he was unleashed but now he is tethered to me, his hands encircling my head and gripping my ponytail.
Oh the moving away, and then the gathering in that happens on and off throughout childhood. Two steps forward, one step back.
This morning he shouted that I must “go away” as he bounded onto an island of snow on the way back from dropping off his big brother at school. I shot this photo of him, and only noticed later how the morning sun shone a spotlight on him.
Oh, my daydreamer. My tender, unhinged, bright, fierce soul. Here we are. I am spending my days witnessing this trembling in you. These desires you don’t quite understand yet, and certainly can’t control. I am tired. But I am trying to let you feel it all. I’m trying to let you be as free as I can. I have these few extra minutes to stop on the side of the road. I have these few extra mornings. I have these last shreds of patience.
So shine on, dear soul. Stamp your feet. Shout it. Rock on. I’m here watching the show. It’s a good one.