Today are you two years old. Every night for the past two years, I’ve fallen asleep thinking of you. I’ve relived the day’s smiles, hugs, milestones, illnesses, and temper tantrums. I’ve gazed at the picture of you in my head and admired your beauty – your kissable cheeks, your soft hair, your gorgeous mouth, your chubby little hands, your model-perfect eyebrows. And I’ve imagined hugging and kissing you one last time before I fall asleep.
Most mornings I wake up excited to see you. Missing you even. Some mornings my first thought is “oh no, I can’t believe he’s already up, PLEASE go back to sleep, kid.” But that’s only some mornings.
You’re my last thought at night and my first thought in the morning, and I always think I’m going to write down all of my thoughts of you so that you can read them someday. But I almost never do. So let me give you an abbreviated, bulleted list of what stands out most in my mind as you become Daddy and Mommy’s two-year-old:
- You are funny. There’s no doubt about this. You are quirky and silly and love to make us laugh. I wouldn’t say that you love attention exactly. It’s that you truly love making other people smile. And Milo, you GET me and Daddy. You hit our funny bones every time. Lately you’ve been into making funny faces with your eyes. Daddy tried to teach you how to wink, but it came out as squint and because we laughed you do it all the time now. And then you take it a step further by rolling your eyes up to one side of your head. Or blinking really quickly. The sillier the better with you. Two nights ago you pulled out the wooden banjo that Corey got you for your birthday, stripped down naked, and ran around the house playing nude music. And later you grabbed the wooden stand that’s used to hold your broom and mop and pretended it was a mic stand. You sang the most ridiculous songs – exaggerated variations on “Bunny Foo Foo” and “Twinkle Twinkle” that you knew would make us giggle.
- You love to dance. You are the youngest kid in your daycare class right now, and your teacher Marcy always tells us that most toddlers love to dance but that you REALLY love it. Music comes on, and you are moving – and leading the crowd with your moves. On the first day of Kavod Alef this September, Marcy turned on the radio and you busted out your moves with a grin. And then you spotted Zoe, a little girl who was too shy to dance on the first day, so you gently put your arm behind her and encouraged her to dance with you. She was apparently still terrified but the teachers appreciated your sweetness and enthusiasm. Yesterday I picked you up from daycare and you, Kieran, and another kid whose name starts with a W were running in circles to the music. Marcy told me that you had taught them how to spin until they fell down and they loved it. The three of you were whooping it up and I could hardly bear to interrupt.
- You’re a talker. You’ve always been verbal, but your vocabulary has exploded the past few months. Every day you have new words and phrases, and each one is amazing to me because I can no longer track their origins. Where did you learn to say “Spiderman,” for instance? Or to sing into a wooden stand as if it were a microphone? You jabber from the minute you wake up until the minute we put you down to sleep. You tell us about your day, and even though you don’t have every single word, you manage to convey that today you jumped in a bouncy house, and you took off your shoes first, and you bounced, bounced, bounced, and then you fell on your bum, and you played with your friends Edie and Bobby and then your teacher jumped with you. And you tell us how you had swimming lessons and you took off your clothes by yourself, and your teacher counted to three and then you jumped in, and you swam and played and then used the potty to go pee. I love watching your ability to communicate grow. It so fun to have conversations with you and to understand better who you are, what you care about, and how you see the world.
- You are sweet. You’ve been interacting with your stuffed animals and dolls and toy trucks and trains lately. A few weeks ago you were acting out some drama with Elmo where Elmo fell down and got an owie. You picked up Elmo, cradled his cheeks in both your hands and said, “Elmo, you okay?” Then you kissed Elmo to make him better. I nearly cried it was so beautiful. But that’s you, energetic and sometimes rambunctious and eager for action but always always gentle and good-hearted.
- You love me and your dad. Before I had you, I had no concept of how much love I could feel for another person. And I had no idea how much another person could love me back. You are happiest when both Tom and I are with you. You want to show us both your tricks and jokes and dance moves. “Mommy, look! Daddy, watch!” are some of your favorite phrases. At night you like us to do a three-way hug, and then you like to push my and Tom’s faces together and demand that we “Kiss! Kiss!” And then you like us to both kiss you while you grin. You usually prefer that I put you to sleep. You still breastfeed, and my boobs are two of your best friends. J But after your dad leaves you always ask about him. “Mommy, where Daddy go?” you’ll ask. I’ll tell you that he went to bed, and you’ll say, “Oh yeah. Daddy tired. Daddy go to sleep.” And then you’ll put your little butt in the air, tell me whether your blanket should go on or beside you (you have strong feelings on this), and then say “Goodnight, Mommy. Bye!” And I will melt and then go downstairs to tell your dad what an angel we have, and he will agree.
- You are happy. You are filled with joy and excitement, and this is the single thing that makes me happiest in this world. There is not an airplane or helicopter (“copatater”) or truck or train that you don’t point out. There is not a puddle you don’t splash in. Not a staircase or jungle gym or retaining wall you don’t climb. Not a squirrel you don’t chase or a puppy you don’t pet. You wave to strangers on the street and say “hellow!” Your eyes sparkle when you’re offered a cookie and you spend a moment touching your fingers together like the Cookie Monster before exclaiming, “ah num num num!” and devouring it. You love change – new scenery, new toys, new gadgets to explore. Being around you is like hanging out with a walking anti-depressant. Your joy is contagious and beautiful and one of the things I’m most grateful for.
- You have shockingly good fine motor skills. And concentration. Besides your general adorableness, this is probably the #1 thing people comment on. You are quick to learn new skills, you enjoy figuring out a challenge, and you have an innate ability when it comes to manual dexterity. You learned sign language at 9 months old. You were the first kid in your class a few weeks ago to figure out how to dress and undress himself. You learned the “flip trick” to put on a jacket in one try. You’ve been able to manipulate doorknobs and bottle tops for months now. You’ve been building block towers, stacking soup cans, and clapping since age one. You are an extremely neat and precise eater because you manipulate forks, spoons, and knives so well. And you’re the only kid your age I’ve seen hold a pen or color crayon like a big kid. And you LOVE to figure out a puzzle. When faced with a challenge, you rarely get frustrated. Instead, you scrunch up your face, furrow your brow, and figure out how to solve it. We brought home a giant helium balloon for you a couple months ago, and you immediately untied the weight that was holding it down. It floated up to the ceiling where you couldn’t reach it. You tried jumping to grab it, but that didn’t work. I asked if you wanted help, and you said no. Instead, you went into a kitchen drawer, picked out a long pasta serving spoon, and used it to grab onto the balloon tie and pull it to the group. Milo, this was REMARKABLE if you ask me. But the best thing was the look on your face when you did it. “Mommy, look! I got balloon!” You are so proud whenever you work hard and then accomplish something new.
- You are loved. I hope this fact is never lost on you. We’re expecting your baby sibling in about 9 weeks, and you’re going to lose your role as Constant Center of Our Attention. I worry that you’ll be jealous when the new baby breastfeeds. Or has to be held. Or needs more time that we can give to you. I know there will be a transition. But I hope you never ever question our love for you. Not even subconsciously. Daddy and I will do our best to make you feel loved, and I hope we’re successful. You are sweet and smart and strong and capable, and even if it takes a while to get used to your new role and the little usurper who’s come to knock you off the throne, I know one day you’ll be a terrific big brother. And you’ll always be our baby.
Happy birthday, my love. We’ve loved you every day of your life and we’ll continue to love you forever.
Mommy (& Daddy)