This is how it starts: another year gone by, another look back at who you've been and what you've done, another moment to stop and gather you into my heart like you are at exactly this second. I will hold two-year-old you there forever, even as you zoom up and beyond to change and grow with each passing year.
This is the Bean you are today: funny, crazy, smart, imaginative, fast. You tell me that you're being funny. FUNN-NEEE you say, scrunching up your nose and smiling. You talk about everything these days. The words came just a couple of months after your first birthday--- and they haven't stopped. You have trouble saying L's - so we turn on the Yight; we love the color Yeyyow; we read about the Yucky Kitten. You also have a particular way to say your G's: it's a soft G like J - so we step on the Jrass and watch for the Green Yight. Your favorite thing to tell us lately is BE RIGHT BACK. You stand in front of me, your hands spread out before you like you're telling a dog to stay. Your face serious and composed, eyes big, and you say BE RIGHT BACK, BE RIGHT BACK, BE RIGHT BACK. And then you walk away. You do always come back. You are good on your word.
Sometimes I get a little bit of that thrilled fear because you're so smart. You can count to 13. You recognize all the numbers (trips to the grocery store are particularly funny with you shouting out the numbers that you see). You can recognzie about half of the alphabet now, too --- though you often like to tell me that you're looking at the Number M or the Number F. You ace puzzles, are starting to sing the ABC song, and genuinely amaze us with all the stuff you know.
You love to run, to move, to explore. You like to have me chase you down the hallway. You hide behind the wall and giggle until I find you. I SEE YOU!, you say.
These are your friends: Bo the woobie blankie, Tray the pink three-eyed monster, Hurp the blue monster, and Elmo. These are your words, not mine. Our morning ritual goes like this: you wake up around 7am, calling for me. I bring you back into our bedroom and we hang out for a while. You usually insist on turning on the YIGHT and also watching some E-L-M-O. After we both get dressed, I have to work a little to convince you to come downstairs. And then there's this from you: FRIENNNNDS! And you grab Bo and Tray and Hurp and Elmo, handing each of them to me as you say their names. FRIENDS, with a solemn nod. We all go downstairs together.
In the last few days I've found you whispering quietly to your friends. You tell them to LISTEN, putting your finger to your lips and saying SHHHH. I'd love to hear the secrets you're telling them. But I know it's not my place to ask. This is the beginning of pretend--- of you creating a make-believe world of castles and mountains and people that I cannot comprehend.
Bean, I can't tell you how fun it is to spend these days with you. Mostly because each day is different. We are buddies, playmates, friends. We color together, put puzzles together, take walks together, feed the ducks at the pond. Those are the good moments. They are plentiful and bright. In the darker moments, you are strong, wilfull, stubborn. You stamp your feet as your face goes bright red. You say NO. You throw things against the wall. I can't possibly imagine where you get this from: this tenacity, this strength of will, this desire to be heard.
I understand that this is what it means to be two. You are standing on the threshold of new independence, stretching your fingers as far as they can go--- but still everything is just that little bit beyond your reach. Those flags you want to hold in your hand, but can't. The ice cream cone that splatters madly on the floor. The bedtime that comes way too soon. The thousand No's when the world should be one giant YES.
And a mommy and daddy standing beside you, holding you up--trying so terribly hard to help you reach higher, push harder, get that much further. Always.
Happy birthday, baby. Here's to another fantastic year: as it will be, because it will be with you.