Terrific two

Maddi has been quite the obstinate and tantrum-prone one-year-old, so it would stand to reason that if two is supposed to be terrible, we were in for quite a year. Luckily, rather than things getting worse when Maddi turned two, it seems Maddi simply hit her “terrible twos” a year early and is now on the road to becoming a happy, helpful and well-behaved little girl.

Shortly before her birthday, Maddi began learning new words every day and putting them into longer and longer sentences. They’re still not the impressive complex sentences Chris and I were using at her age (or, let’s face it, a lot younger), but she can get her point across much more easily. Consequently, situations that used to result in screaming tantrums can now be defused by asking Maddi to use her words.

Maddi’s independence has long been a mixed blessing. On the one hand, she doesn’t need me to entertain her every second of the day; on the other, her lack of fear means that I do have to closely supervise her every second of the day. But now, the same independence that has led her to climb furniture and run away and hide in the gym parking lot has blossomed into a desire to do grown-up things herself — which is something that I’m able to channel into activities that will either divert her or help me (or both!). For instance, Maddi is delighted to put her sippy cup in the refrigerator after meals, which means I have five seconds to rinse her bowl and I have one fewer cup to deal with. And since she understands complex instructions, I can ask her to go fetch me James’ striped overalls that are hanging from the laundry-room doorknob and Maddi will happily comply.

Maddi is about 50 percent potty-trained (depending on the circumstances) and is eager to sit on toilets at the mall, at the grocery store — even at Daddy’s favorite card shop. Often, she uses the big toilet, but when she uses the little potty, Maddi will even empty it out herself and hand it to me to rinse.

At two, she’s become very coordinated physically. As you may recall, she has long enjoyed leaping from the sofa to the ottoman and then to the other sofa. She now jumps in place (and can be heard doing so, while narrating with a chorus of “Jump, jump, jump,” in her crib during naptime), spins in circles, walks backward, kicks a ball well, and can climb as high as she pleases at our friendly local McDonald’s PlayPlace.

Even though she’s made dramatic improvements on the behavior front, I wasn’t sure I wanted to throw a big blowout party for a dozen 2-year-olds while watching after my own active toddler and newish baby. So I decided to decorate with dollar-store balloons and streamers this year and pull out all the stops next year when she and her friends will be old enough to enjoy it more. Maddi celebrated her birthday Sunday afternoon with a low-key family party — just Mommy, Daddy, Maddi, James and Nana and Poppa.

While the party was small, that’s not to say it wasn’t fun for Maddi. Our wee one’s eyes lit up when she entered the dining room and spied streamers festooning the dining area and a heap of grass-green balloons surrounding presents piled on a barn-red tablecloth. Using her intense love of our neighborhood horses as inspiration, I decorated her cake using plastic ponies from her favorite mall toystore. We’d practiced blowing out flames in the days leading up to her birthday, and when the time came, Maddi was delighted to snuff the candles on her birthday cake.

The biggest hit of the day, however, was the outdoor play equipment Maddi received. Our little climber is the proud owner of an adjustable rock-climbing toy and a sandbox, both of which were promptly put to good use. The climbing toy is for ages 3 and up, technically, but we figured that if she can climb a dresser and surf on a rocking horse, our little princess should have no problem navigating ladders and footholds. We figured correctly. Not only does she climb the ladder and the rock wall with ease, Maddi also can scramble up the slide in two seconds flat.

All in all, she had a marvelous birthday (even without a dozen of her little friends running wild) and what we can only hope is the beginning of a wonderful year!

Of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without a picture of Maddi enjoying her grass-green birthday cake:

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