I hope I don't jinx it by talking about it, but so far the terrible twos have been a lot of fun. Incredibly exhausting, but my daughter gets to be more fun every day. Maybe I'm incredibly fortunate to have a relatively mellow and communicative child, or maybe it's my own temperament, or maybe we're just four months into the 2s and are in for unspeakable terrors.
The first year was like a video game from the 80s, where you had to perform arbitrary tasks, and much of the game was spent just trying to figure out what you were supposed to do, and when you did, it really didn't have much to do with the plot. You had to keep doing these repetitive tasks in the right order and when you did it enough you won. The first year the goal of the game was to get the baby to stop crying and your options were "rock gently," "go for a walk with the stroller," "put her in the car seat and drive around," "feed: bottle," "feed: breast," or "random thing you haven't tried yet." Sometimes one would work. Sometimes it would take all of them, several times over, in varying patterns. And then the reward was just an absence of crying instead of something truly enjoyable.
Of course there were all the joys of the "firsts." First laugh, first sitting up by herself, first steps, first words, and all that. Those have been miraculous and fascinating, but it's really all just getting started. In the twos those all come together to form an actual, interactive being.
The twos are like looking after a friend who is having an acid trip. Their reality is constantly changing and you have to keep up with through whatever cues they provide. One moment they're a princess and then they become a superhero a moment later. You might find that you've become a princess too, but then turn into a cat as the story demands. A plastic tube starts as a cup of coffee, then turns into a microphone, then a lollipop. You just have to keep up as reality shifts. Anything can become a source of entertainment and you never know what will suddenly become infinitely fascinating. Last night it was smells. My daughter and I spent an hour opening every bottle and tube in the bathroom to find out what the contents smelled like. Just sniffing things became a source of fun.
The twos are a whole lot more work than the previous years. It's not just infant babble anymore. They're learning to communicate with words and sentences. That means they can argue. And whine. But it also means they can joke and tell stories. We goof around and we crack each other up. It's exhausting and crazy and continually changing, but at the same time, the twos are more fun than any time before. I'm embracing the chaos.