Today is your 2nd birthday. When I told you that this morning, I think you understood because you then proceeded to shove two fingers up my nose. This is one of your favorite things to do and has been ever since you were born. Many years from now, I'll tell you about this and you'll think I'm exaggerating (as your mother says I am wont to do.) However, ask mommy about the nose thing. She'll back me up on this one. Whenever you stick your fingers up my nose, you shriek with delight and laugh hysterically. It's ridiculously adorable. You have the best laugh.
Other things you'll want to remember about being two...
(1) Some kids hug. Some kids don't. Others have hugness thrust upon them. You, my little cherub, are very much a hugger. You will hug every human under 3". Dropping you off at daycare is like watching the mayor work a campaign trail. You also love hugging dogs and trying to stick your finger up their butt. I have no idea where that comes from. If you grow up and be a vet, maybe it will all make sense.
(2) You started walking at 9 months. Now, you're a runner. You love racing me down the block to our front door. I have no other context with which to judge this but I think you might possibly be the fastest two-year old kid in history. Either that or I'm the slowest 37-year old on the planet. You're so damn fast that, if I didn't know better, I'd accuse you of taking steroids and subpoena you to appear before a congressional subcommittee. Seriously, if you end up in the 2020 Olympics, remember you heard it here first.
(3) Maybe because you were so enamored of walking, your language skills developed a little later than some other kids. Now, you don't stop talking. Ever! About 50% of what you say is completely unintelligible. However, you say it with such strong conviction and get such a serious look on your face that I usually just pretend to understand you and say things like, "Oh snap! I was JUST thinking that!" or "Get out of town, girlfriend! For real?" Whenever I do that, you'll just keep on babbling incoherently for a few more minutes. Then, you'll pause, look up at me and say, "Dada, juice?"
(4) Either my sense of humor is rubbing off on you (possible) or I have the maturity level of an infant (more likely.) However, you're a pretty funny kid. The other day, I asked you whether you loved me and you said, "No! Mama!" I pretended to cry and, at first, you just laughed at me. But then you came over and give me a hug while you whispered in my ear, "Pssht...pssht. Secret. Love dada." My heart was about to explode from all the cuteness and just when I thought I might actually shed a real tear, you proceeded to lick your tiny finger and jam it in my ear. That had us both rolling with laughter. Damn, I never should have taught you the wet willie.
(5) Right now, your best friend is a little Asian doll that you've affectionately (and quite unoriginally) named "Baby." You feed her, kiss her, and push her around in the stroller constantly. Sometimes, you even swaddle her with dishrags. The two things you DON'T do with "Baby" are clothe her or wash her. If "Baby" were actually human, she'd resemble a naked Chinese stowaway who spent the last 6 months in a ship's container sleeping on a pile of fish.
(6) You are fiercely independent, Peanut. Even your teachers are amazed by this fact. However, little do they know that you come from a long line of stubborn people dating back to the Ming Dynasty. Whenever someone tries to help you with anything, you push them away and demand to do it yourself. If you don't want to eat, you'll hold a hunger strike. If we give you a time-out, you'll just sit in your chair forever and shoot me the KDS (Korean Death Stare.) I always thought the KDS was taught to Korean girls by their mothers but you've proven that it's passed on genetically.
I'm not going to wax nostalgic here, Peanut, and gush about how much I love you. I tell you that every day and I mean it with every fiber of my heart. There's no way on earth that I could ever express how much I truly love you. And because I'm not a lyrically poetic man, I'll leave the emotional prose to more talented writers and poets.
However, today on your birthday, I just want to say thanks.
Thanks for coming into our world and filling our lives with more meaning than we ever could have suspected. You've taught us that, at the end of the day, the only things that truly matter in life are love, family and a warm glass of milk.
Thanks for reminding me that there are few better ways of spending an entire day then playing in the sandbox, finger-painting outdoors, or throwing peanuts at the dog.
Thanks for bringing all branches of our family closer together. You've singlehandedly proven that the love of an innocent child can mend most fences, heal old wounds, and build new bridges.
Thanks for letting me see the world again through your eyes. Watching your eyes widen as you discover or experience something for the first time reminds me of all the beauty in this world. Sometimes, I forget.
Thanks for teaching me that, although there are many different kinds of love, there is no true love like the one a father has for his child.
I love you very much, Peanut. Have a happy 2nd birthday. Now, let's go find some buckets and have a party!