To my daughter, who is almost two… years away from world domination.

After living through your brother at the age of 3, I became totally cool with the “terrible” twos. Not a problem, I thought, bring it on. So as you have approached age 2 and started to show independence (read: pushing tired parents to their limits of sanity), I have been feeling pretty laid back about it. I’ve done it before, so I figured it would be easier this time around.

I forgot the Number One Rule of parenting. NOTHING EVER GETS EASIER.

I am realizing that a toddler at age 2, when accompanied by an older 4-year old sibling, is a Very Different Experience. Just like how watching all that water spill down Niagara Falls from the Canadian shoreline is a very different experience from, say, rolling down the falls in a barrel. In one, you can admire the power and majesty in relative safety. The other could kill you.

It is impossible to talk about how you are changing and growing without mentioning your brother. He is your best friend, your constant advocate, your watchdog… as well as your bully, your punching bag, and your collaborator in the grand plan to Break Mommy. I admit that it’s all my fault that you both are bent on my destruction; I set it all up myself. I’ve thought about this, ruminating on how you have identified my weaknesses and have pinned it to the moment when I found you happily eating cat poop. There you sat, brown smears all over your face, and watched enthralled while my entire body went boneless and my tongue fell out of my mouth, and I had to fumble around for 10 minutes groping for words, cleaning supplies, and whatever drug erases memory. In stark contrast was your Dad, who sort of looked over his shoulder, like, ‘what? cat poop? dude, I ate WAY worse in college.’ You realized two things then and there: 1. that I am an easy target; and 2. the melt down is totally worth it.

I figure this is proof positive that you are The Brain to Will’s Pinky, because I swear I didn’t have nearly as many break downs when he was this age. And it’s not YOU. And it’s not HIM. Separately, both of you can be quite pleasant. It’s THE TWO OF YOU, TOGETHER. You’ve worked out each and every one of my buttons so well that working together, the pair of you can naturally and seamlessly move between one area (say, grossing me out) to another (like, flirting with dismemberment) without pause.
This is not to say that you aren’t a challenge on your own. Mostly, your challenges come from the fact that you are stubborn and can seriously hold a grudge. Case in point: when I took you inside at dusk and removed your wet dress to ready you for the shower. The following pictures document a solid 15 minutes of Conniption Fit, where you picked up your dress from the floor and worked hard to put it back on, growing more angry the more tangled you got. Two days later, when I took this dress out of the laundry to hang it up, you grabbed it from the hanger and threw it to the ground. Whoa, I thought, THAT is an impressive grudge.

Now that I think of it… the dress has little flowers on it, which is making me wonder if you are associating your anger with the dress on my petunias, since your “helpful” dead-heading is kept primarily to new, fresh blooms?
For someone that knows how to keep a grudge, you are amazingly forgetful about your own transgressions. It goes like this: you and your brother are locked in some kind of epic tickle or bouncing or running event and someone (read: your brother) gets hurt. Or alternatively, you just walk right up to him and smack him on the head. Either way, Will ends up crying and you end up apologizing. We ask you, “Kate, did you hurt Will?” And you blink all blank-face and say, “yeah,” in this ‘did I do that?’ way that makes it hard to keep a straight face. Will is ready and set to brood for at least 10 minutes, but you recover in an instant. Like, ‘I know I totally just power-drived you into the floor, but hey, let’s go empty Mom’s sock drawer and see if we can make her face split open to the bone, ’cause that is totally cool.’ And in an instant, you’ve turned him around. Because no one can stand mad at you.

One of the most exciting parts of being with you these days is your incredible language development. You blow everyone away with your words, which is impressive considering that no one understands more than 25% of what you say. When you really get on a roll, babbling on and on about this and that, gatos and doggies, Emmy and Elmo (favorite points of conversation), I run for the camera. I am so eager, desperate even, to capture these precious moments of your turn from toddler to child. Which explains why the emergence of the camera always causes you to shut right up.
It is amazing that you speak as much as you do, mostly because you still spend a lot of time with your pacifier stuck in your mouth. We have high hopes of potty training you in the next few months, so between that and starting a new school, we’ve decided to hold off on pacifier removal until the fall. Even mentioning our desire to wean you, partially or completely, from the Thing causes your Granna great distress: she’s certain that the root of every problem Will has or is going to have for the rest of his life is connected to our weaning him from the pacifier at age 3. But we have a plan. Although your brother is still 3 years away from having permanent teeth, he has already been given a referral from our dentist to see an orthodontist. We intend on forwarding on all orthodontia bills to Granna and figure that this will bring drastic change to her extreme support of the pacifier. But it will be okay. You are the strongest kid we know and will do fine without the Abby (your name for the pacifier, why, we have no idea). Although I admit that seeing you with it makes me feel that you are still my baby, at least, for a little bit longer…