“The day before you turned two, we flew back from our holiday and you sat on my lap for most of the flight home. You were just short of having a ‘paid-for’ seat on the plane, so whilst that sounds like a good thing, having a squirming, wriggling two and half stone toddler on my lap for most of the four hour flight was not actually that much fun. It wasn’t your fault, you didn’t understand why you couldn’t get up and play or go and find your little cousin a few rows back. But then you fell asleep on my chest, and stayed there for almost 2 hours, and I enjoyed every second of it as you never do that any more. The photo Daddy took of you whilst you slept was almost identical to the dozens of photos I have of you from the early months when you would fall asleep on my chest, usually after a feed, except this time you were much much bigger.
The day after you turned two, I took you to nursery as normal but I had to take you to a new room, for the 2-3 year olds. We walked past the room where you had been before and you put your nose up to the glass and peered in. We walked to the new room and it was full of new children, new toys and a new team to look after you. I thought about how I felt when you moved from the baby room to the toddler room several months before and reminded myself how quickly you settled and how it was a good thing for you to be mixing with children older than you again. Luckily some of your friends have also moved to the new room, and your face lit up when you saw them at the breakfast table.
Returning from holiday to the wet, miserable weather in the UK, heading back to work after 12 days off, on top of you turning two and moving to a new room at nursery was an emotional start to that Wednesday. I remember feeling similar when you turned one. I didn’t understand why other parents got emotional when their babies turned one, until it was your turn. It’s a similar feeling now. You’re no different to the day before your birthday, really, you change so much all the time anyway, the fact you are now two doesn’t physically make a difference. Except, I now have a 2 year old. You have aged 2-3 clothes, you don’t get in free to stuff anymore and I can’t really count you in months now.. for the next 12 months, you are two – just turned two, two and a half, and then almost three.
You have achieved so much already in your two years – much more than most grown-ups achieve in two years. You have learnt to feed, crawl, walk, run, jump (almost (who knew how hard it was to learn to jump?)), to speak and to make us laugh, and your cheeky little personality shines through every day. You have learnt to throw the most epic tantrums and I am learning how best to handle them. I question my actions and words every day – not always at the time, but often afterwards, when I reflect on a situation and consider if I made the right move. Should I have shouted? Should I have left you on the floor or tried to pick you up? Did I grab your arm too tightly? Am I “that parent” in public? Should I tell you that you are naughty? I hate it when you say “Isaac naughty” or you say sorry when you haven’t really done anything wrong. The balance of trying to care for you, keep you safe, educate you and discipline you is really tough. I know you don’t mean to be naughty sometimes but that you are just frustrated or tired or fed up, or you don’t know what you have done is wrong, but if I don’t tell you it is wrong how will you learn? If I don’t say no sometimes, how will you know what’s right and what’s wrong? I get it that sometimes you don’t understand, or that we are having fun playing and then you get over-excited and your actions become dangerous and I have to tell you to stop – I understand that must be confusing, to go from laughter to serious so quickly. I try to explain stuff to you but I know it’s a lot to take in. I know my expectations of you are high when it comes to speaking to you about what’s wrong or why you’re crying – I wish you could always explain what you are thinking so we could work it out together.
I still haven’t fully worked out my “parenting style” yet, I don’t want to always say no and I don’t want to wrap you in cotton wool, but equally I have to do everything in my power to keep you safe and teach you. I want you to learn from your experiences but I also have to protect you and respect others around us.
I know you know mummy and daddy get on the train almost every day to go to work and you know it’s called London. I don’t know what you think London is but I love that you can say it. You also tell Daddy that I work at Tesco across the road which makes us laugh. I know I spend a lot of time in there but it’s not actually my job! I love your understanding of things and I wish I knew how you build ideas and thoughts in your head. I love listening to you ask questions, you ask things like “who’s that?”, “what’s that noise?”, “what’s that?”, “where’s Daddy gone?” and I help you understand things by giving you the answers. I know that over time the questions will multiply and multiply some more and I will try my hardest to not lose my patience with you and will always try and answer you honestly or find the answer if I need to.
Some days when I drop you at nursery in the morning, like today, when we are in a bit of a rush and the first time I have a chance to think is when I am sitting on the train to work, I regret that I didn’t hug you or kiss you at the nursery door. You are already so independent, that you just run in and sit yourself down ready for breakfast with your friends. I get a wave sometimes, but barely a hug anymore. Some days I wish I could turn around, pick you up and take you home again and we can spend the whole day playing together. It would have to be trains as you are completely obsessed by them. Other days, especially those tough days, when you get easily frustrated and I can’t work out why, I’m grateful that I can spend the day at my desk conversing with adults doing a job that I love. I am glad that I enjoy what I do, it makes it easier for me to go to work and leave you – easier but not easy.
I can’t believe you are two already. Thank you for being an amazing little boy, we are truly blessed to have you as our son. I can’t wait for the next 12 months of adventures with you.”