“It’s amazing how a little girl so cute can be so…”

My friend thought better of what she was saying and thankfully she did not finish her sentence. Oh, I know what she was thinking. She did not trail off because she was about to say “charming” or “demure.” No, my little girl-so-cute is two. Very two. Of the scream-hit-kick variety. The kind of two that makes playgroup end early and five year olds cry.

To those of you who can’t relate, who have never raised a child through the proverbial Terrible Twos, to you I say: Just you wait. You may even have a two year old in your home right now who still takes a three hour nap every afternoon and who in his childlike way reminds you of the true meaning of Christmas, and you may even feel like the better parent for it. Hmmm. Just. You. Wait.

To my fellow sisters in arms, to those of you raising the next generation of leaders, movers and shakers, to those of you who are knee deep in two-ness with all of its tears and wails, allow me a few observations that have help me get from two to three.

1.) I meant what I wrote. I firmly believe that strong willed, stubborn two year olds are made up of the kind of stock you find in great leaders, bold and brilliant, smart and courageous men and women. They aren’t pushovers and one day we’ll be so glad for their iron wills.

2.) Pick your battles. With a willful two year old, everything can morph into a full-blown battle if you let it. Independence is important to them. That is why, for example, my gorgeous little girl walks around town with her outfits mismatched, and sometimes her pants on inside out, whilst refusing to wear her winter jacket. Never mind what passersby might think. Those who have passed through this rite of passage will know you love her enough to allow her a little autonomy.

3.) Devote your time and energy and embrace the two-ness. I know my two-year-old acts up when I’m talking on the phone, returning emails on the computer, or otherwise occupied. When she has my undivided attention, when I’m fully engaged, whether it’s reading books together or letting her sit on the counter while I cook, or just talking with her, these are the moments when her true delightful self shines through. And let me tell you, sharp two year olds can be charming!

4.) Take a minute to watch them sleep. Like me, you may have had to say bye-bye to nap time months ago (another battle I conceded) but there is something to be said for peeking in after lights out. The serene face, the soft breathing, oooh, it makes it so easy to fall in love with them over and over again no matter how difficult the day. (I’m convinced this is why Heavenly Father created all of us to sleep a whopping third of our lives away. It must be so he can look down, smile, and see the good in each of us even on our worst days.)

5.) Praise like crazy. The more you praise, the less you will have to punish.

6.) Remember that no one will do a better job parenting your two year old than you will. No one else cares like you care. No one else is in it for the long haul like you are. So don’t delegate this one. Don’t outsource it. Embrace it and leave it all out on the field. They’ll be three soon enough.

And three is fab-u-lous! Just you wait.