My two-year-old daughter gets her words mixed up sometimes, especially her pronouns. “I want me juice.” That’s a big one: “me” where there should be a “my.” It makes her sound like a pirate.
Our dog’s name is Layla. She calls her, “Yay-ya.” Ls are another issue.
But there’s one mix up she uses more than any other…
Here’s how it works: Maybe I’ve agreed to give her one Skittle. Just one. And then she asks for two. And — well — have you seen my daughter? Those eyes. That hair. I give her two.
But if you give a mouse a cookie, or a toddler an extra Skittle…
They’re gonna ask for more.
So there’s Em, looking up at me with her momma’s blue eyes, crunching down on the two skittles I already gave her, saying, “I want so much.”
It’s all wrong, but it’s perfect. What she’s trying to say is she wants more Skittles, or Hershey’s Kisses (oh, that’s another good one, for some reason she calls them “hot chocolates), more of everything and anything. Come to think of it, maybe she’s not mixing her words up at all. Maybe she really does want “so much.”
As a father to a toddler, I get a front row seat to humanity in its rawest form. Toddlers are humans uncensored. Everything’s there, right from the start — the greed, the gluttony, the love and the loss — all wrapped up in a forty-pound package.
You’re probably heard of “The Terrible Twos.” My wife and I use a different term to define the struggles most parents face during their child’s second year.
We call them “The Boundary Stages.”
Kids at Em’s age are exploding with every conceivable human emotion. It’s all bubbling up on the inside, and like most people, they’re going to push the boundaries. You say one Skittle, they ask for two.
They want “so much.”
And, y’all, listen, I want my daughter to have everything her little heart desires. I want her to find a love like the kind her mother and I share. I want her to do good, meaningful work. Most of all, I want her to be happy.
And if I truly want all of those things for her…
I can’t give her “so much.”
I can give her enough. I can give her what she needs. I can always make sure she knows I love her with every fiber of my being, but that doesn’t mean she needs three Skittles, and she sure as shootin’ doesn’t need the whole bag.
If I can hold up that end of the deal, if I can consistently tell my daughter, “No,” then my hope is that eventually, she will learn there are boundaries to our world. She’ll learn to be thankful. She’ll learn the power of patience, the rewards of grit.
And who knows, maybe one day, years from now, Em will look back and understand it’s the things we didn’t give her that gave her “so much.”
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