My twins are two and it's the cutest age. They're no longer babies, but they're still young enough to be carried and cuddled. They're able to participate in conversations and know how to communicate to get what they want. They're big enough to understand and play simple games and love going out for a chance to explore. Even though they're highly energetic (and by 'highly energetic' I mean tear-your-hair-out-exhausting), I just love the toddler years. It's the time when you start getting a glimpse of what sort of little person they're likely to become.
Yes, there are times when parenting the mighty toddler is HARD WORK. But for those particularly tough days, when your toddler is more partial to smacking the cat than showering you with kisses, it always pays to remind yourself of how terrific toddlers can be. They're little like this for such a short time – before you know it, you'll be fitting them for their first school uniform and they'll be telling you to wait at the school gate so they can run in ahead of you, all grown up and independent…
Here are 10 ways toddlers are terrific (yes, even on the hard days) ...
1. They love to be cuddled
Toddlers are at that age where they still offer fantastic cuddles, which I really need on those days when I realise how fast they're hurtling towards big-kid-hood. And something about those heartfelt little arms clinging around my neck tells me they need those cuddles too.
2. Their attempts at words
I love asking my toddlers to repeat things after me (for example: 'digger') and hearing them come back enthusiastically with something...not very close to it (in this case: 'nah-nah!'). Other times they get the word spot on and we all celebrate. It melts me every time.
3. The way they understand
Reaching toddlerhood means those one-sided conversations you used to have with your baby are a thing of the past. Not only can toddlers understand every word you are saying but they can come back with a response for everything you suggest. It's brilliant stuff. Although asking questions like 'Do you want a bath?' or 'Shall we get ready for bed?' still bite me in the arse in this case.
4. Their determination
When a toddler wants something, everyone in the house will know about it. You've got to hand it to them for the focussed, dogged persistence - at our place it quite often breaks me, because I will do nearly anything for two minutes of peace and quiet.
5. Their complete and utter cuteness
There's nothing much cuter than a toddler. Could those eyes be any bigger? That smile any more toothy? From the soft downy hair to their enthusiasm for mischief, toddlers are cuteness personified. Maybe Mother Nature designed it that way - keep the parents sweet by making the kid cuter than cute ... that way we'll forgive anything.
6. Their interest in everything
Toddles are interested in (and excited by) the simplest of things. Mine LOVE waving at the garbage truck that comes past our house every Tuesday morning. And for them, nothing beats a walk around the block, where they can crunch leaves under their feet, touch every tree they come to, and peek through everyone's fences.
7. Watching them eat
Is it just me, or do other people love watching their toddlers eat? Maybe it's all the focus on getting them to put on weight when they're babies and the satisfaction as they start taking solids, but I still adore watching them eat with that pure, enthusiastic gusto. It almost makes cleaning up all the mess afterwards worth it. Almost.
8. Watching little personalities develop
Since the twins turned two, I've begun to see their personalities and idiosyncrasies come out, and I love thinking of the little person they are becoming. This is when they start shaking off 'baby' and adding more 'big kid' to the mix. It's also when you can day dream about their career - just for fun of course. I've got a budding rock star and a little scientist in the works over here. How about you?
9. Their growing attachment to things
One of my twins is very particular about his favourite t-shirt and loves to pick out his shorts. Even though this invariably means digging said favourite t-shirt out of the dirty washing day after day, I love how important it is that he wears that shirt. His brother is completely attached to a Snugglepot soft toy and won't go anywhere without it.
10. Their clumsy affection
As obstinate and mischievous as they can be, you can't fault toddlers for their unadulterated displays of affection. When mine feel the urge to lunge at me with cuddles and sloppy kisses, the day's stress melts away. Because really, how great are sloppy toddler kisses?
Karina is the founder of Mum Friday, a mobile support service for mums with new babies. You can follow her at www.facebook.com/MumFriday.