I told B that it was time for him to get dressed. (All right, so it was past time. But when we don't have to be anywhere, sometimes B hangs out in pajamas for awhile. I'm not disclosing until when here... but anyway, he doesn't mind.) Next thing I knew, four-year-old N and two-year-old B were clomping through the house as robots. Not sure where that came from. But here comes B, imitating to the best of his ability the jerking movements and stilted voice of a robot, as modeled by his brother.
"Robot-need-to-get-dressed," he intoned. Then he grinned that impish grin at me.
I felt like the mother in the opening paragraph of J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan. Two-year-old Wendy presents her mother with a flower, and the narrator remarks, "I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, 'Oh, why can't you remain like this for ever!'"
It is for my two-year-olds that I have most often felt that sentiment. I must confess that, although I adore babies, I never long for a baby to stay a baby forever, and am predictably thrilled at each milestone reached. And once a child is much past two, they themselves are so impatient to grow up that it seems rather cruel to wish that they wouldn't (nevertheless, I have my cruel moments). But two-year-olds are so satisfied being two. They have the best of being a baby, all that excitement at the newness of everything, without the night feedings or the spitting up.
Even when my two-year-old robot fidgeted and decided to tease me by running off after his shirt was on, he was easily brought back by my simply joining the game. "Robots-need-pants," I reminded him mechanically, and he laughed and ran back to hug me, before obligingly stepping into his trousers.
If only B would be fully potty-trained (surely the most odious task in all of parenthood--but we're so close!), I confess I could wish he'd stay two forever. Terrible twos? Never heard of them.
But then, maybe my children are just developmentally delayed, because J and I agree that three is a perfectly rotten age (too harsh? "very challenging" in parentally PC terms), full of whining and "testing." I must admit that we therefore greet a fourth birthday with an extra measure of glee mingled with relief.