The past few months your 2-year-old personality has emerged more and more – and by emerged I mean, taken on a life of its own, at a pace that we (me, your dad, and your older brother) can often not keep up with, let alone control. You seem to get sincere enjoyment out of doing anything that disrupts, even slightly, the routine of our daily lives. Yesterday, you made sure I was watching as you grinned and poured your glass of milk on the table. Slurping it up in your mouth and pretending to be a doggie slightly made up for the mess I had to clean up. And all the while, no matter how much I yell or discipline, you just laugh and laugh. I wish I had your ability to giggle in the face anyone who tells me I am not doing it right – somehow along the path to adulthood, we lose this, and instead feel shame and inadequacy. But not you, Andrew – you prance on and know everything will be ok. Sometimes, though, between running the other direction and pulling your brother’s hair out, you remind me that you are only a little boy – filled with sweetness and insecurities.
Earlier last week your brother found the Lego watch your Uncle Jake had given him for Christmas. He used to be too young for the small pieces, but now he seemed to understand that he was supposed to wear the watch and not eat it. As I helped Bennett adjust the watch on his wrist, you, being 2, were of course trying to do just that – I scolded. “Andrew! These are Bennett’s Legos for HIS watch – and they are NOT candy!” You pressed on, trying to reach for the box, un-phased by my protest. Then I turned and looked at you, and you asked sweetly, “Where’s my watch?” You were so quiet, you already knew the answer.
My silence must have revealed the truth, because you stared at me and your eyes got big. Your mouth turned down and you let out a quick sigh, right before giant, wet, silent tears started rolling down your cherub-like cheeks. You fell into my arms and hugged me as if to say, “You can make this better, right, mommy?” Even though this was over a silly toy, my heart broke for you – sure, there will be more disappointments that will be bigger than this, but you don’t know that. You don’t know there will be teasing at school, heartbreak from ended relationships, big realizations that life is often unfair. To you, a 2 year old boy trying to keep up with his busy parents and 4 year old brother, this was as big a disappointment as you’ve known. And in that moment, you acted by being present – you didn’t throw a tantrum, you didn’t try to rip the watch off Bennett’s wrist, you didn’t even yell and say you wanted one. You knew there was not a watch for you, and you genuinely cried. Thank you for reminding me that often when we’re sad, we get mad instead – it’s easy to kick and scream and carry on, but maybe if we just hugged someone, and shed a few heartfelt tears, we would feel better. And, as you know, everything will always be ok. Your brother saw your sadness and took off the watch. He let you wear it for the rest of the day.