It feels like just last week that I sat down to write you a letter on your first birthday. But here we are.
At two, you are already speaking so much. You love new words and your application of these words is often touching, inspiring and very funny. You grasp a new word, screech it with delight and set about using it right away, often with hilarious results. If I can ask anything for the future you, I hope that you will always keep your love of learning. Keep interested, keep curious and see mistakes as just another opportunity to learn something new. I wish we could all approach learning with the gusto of a toddler. But really, most of all, it is important to have fun.
Much to our surprise, and yours, we have found that you can have BIG feelings. BIG feelings that play out in supermarkets when we are in a rush, BIG feelings over not being able to play with my phone, and BIG feelings when you lose your favourite green train. These BIG feelings, well, they are ok; no, they are more than ok – they are good. Please keep having them. I really wish that we lived in a world where more people could express what they feel. I think the world would be better for it. I hope that when you are older, you are able to cry with no sense of censorship or judgment and I really hope that you will feel safe to say that something hurts. Please know that when your little lip wobbles it moves me in ways you cannot know, and although I won’t and can’t give you everything that you want, I hope that you know that I understand how you feel about it, and I feel for you. Please keep having BIG feelings and please keep telling me about these BIG feelings.
I love the pride in every step that you take, when we go out walking in the pink gumboots that you chose, and that you lovingly wipe down when we get home. I am so glad that you are not yet aware of stereotypes, and I hope that you can keep loving cars, trucks and trains, as well as your dolls, and wearing whatever damn colour you choose. When I see you strolling down the footpath in your pink gumboots, with your fire engine in hand, I have hope for your generation. I hope that we will see a generation of kids that have broad interests, that are sensitive to others and that can express themselves without fear of ridicule.
Speaking of interests… at two, you love anything that moves with wheels. I have watched you sob over your trains not connecting in the way you want them to, and exclaim in delight when spotting a ‘big, long, orange bus’. You take your cars apart and watch with bated breath, and much interest, as we put them back together again. I have lost count of the trains, cars, buses, planes and trucks whose nappies I have helped you to change! The phrase ‘wipe, wipe Percy do-do nappy’ is now very familiar, as is ‘uh-oh wheel’.
You care deeply for your toys, and buses, trains, dollies, cats and tigers all get kisses when they fall. You make sure they have breakfast and are very concerned about them being happy. When we made a terrarium for some snails, you spent days with your nose pressed against the glass waiting for them to eat the food you offered. When we visit Collingwood Children’s farm, it is hard to watch your disappointment on the odd occasion that the goats really are too full to eat the grass that you offer so graciously to them. I also apologise that we happen to have a ‘mean cat’ as a pet. You try so hard with our grumpy cat. She is just too old and cranky to appreciate ‘chasey’, or hugs, or broccoli. I’m glad she hasn’t dampened your love of all animals.
At two you have started to become wary and a little fearful of some things. While in some way this is a relief for me as I know you will be a little more careful, I can’t help feeling sad when you ask for help on a slide you deem ‘too high’ that you once went down with such gusto. How do we protect you, and help you develop a healthy fearlessness? I’m not sure. There is a lesson in there for both of us, I’m sure.
You are so busy, so wiggly, so full of energy and so focussed in your play, that we really cherish the hugs and kisses that you give us when you do. When you snuggle into me for a rare quiet moment, I hold my breathe. Like a butterfly, you softly place your head on my shoulder, and I am all too aware that any movement on my part, might send you fluttering away to something else that has attracted your attention. I soak these little moments in, and I am so grateful for them.
So, on your second birthday, I hope that you know that we cherish you, love you and take absolute pleasure in watching you grow. It is such a privilege to be your parents, and we love being the ones you come to for comfort. We will never take those teary hugs for granted. We learn so much from your joy, and you keep us laughing.
Keep growing, keep loving, keep learning and please always be you. Only you.