There are many uncertainties with children, but one thing is undeniably true – two-year-olds cry. A lot. I have one of these precious toddlers and over the last six months I’ve quickly realized why they call this age “terrible.” Now don’t get me wrong; she is absolutely adorable. She is funny, playful, determined and growing faster than I’d like. But then a minute passes and she’s crying. Again. Because that’s what two-year-olds do.
I think the reason the two-year-old tears are so difficult to handle is because they can come out of nowhere. You moved a toy off of the table? Tears. You told her she had to take at least one bite of the chicken nuggets she begged for? More tears. And heaven forbid you mention things like potty, naptime or cleaning up. The tears will quickly become full out temper tantrums.
But the other day, as I was desperately trying to ignore a tantrum that I knew would soon pass, I had a realization. Her little tears are just that – little. She cries over little problems: needing milk, not wanting to share or maybe being denied her second Popsicle of the day. Sure, at times there are tears that mean a bit more. My heart breaks when she cries in pain when she’s sick, or if her favorite toy breaks. And I know she is experiencing real anxiety when we have to wash her always-by-her-side kitty. But even still, these are little tears compared to what’s to come.
I’ve tried not to think about the pain she will feel one day, but to do so puts things in perspective. One day, she will have her heart broken. She will likely be made fun of or bullied. She will not make the team and she will be denied entry into the college of her dreams. Even further down the road, she may lose someone who is close to her. I pray she does not experience serious illness or the loss of a baby, but it could happen. And when these things do happen, she will cry big tears. Real tears. And I’ll think back to the time when they were little.
Her tears right now, at age two, are very real to her. I don’t deny that she has big feelings and that I need to help guide her through them. Her language skills haven’t quite caught up to those feelings, which means we deal with a lot of crying. But for now, I’ll recognize that it makes her sad when I don’t let her wear pajamas to school; but in the back of my mind I’ll take comfort in knowing that these are little tears. Two-year-old tears. And I’ll take those over grown-up tears any day.