Dammit. The Terrible Twos Are Real.

Parenthood is one hell of a humbling experience. 

I used to think that parents who couldn’t control their kids had issues.  I thought that a kid who was misbehaving was not very well-disciplined and that the parents simply didn’t try hard enough to keep their kid in check.

I’m here to tell you, as a parent who prides themself on being VERY proactive in trying to mold an incredibly well-behaved child… it’s simply impossible to score 100% all the time.

Like all kids, DLG has had her bouts with disobedience… but until recently nothing off the charts.  I diligently read “1-2-3 Magic!” (a book on disciplining your kids) before she reached the age of one.  When her behavior began to reach a point where I though she might be able to reasonably understand what was “right” and “wrong”, Bunny and I started issuing time-outs.  These have worked splendidly and with minor backlash.

But this Labor Day weekend… something short circuited. 

She pushed a kid over in church… twice

She bit and hit a friend of hers who came over to play. 

She threw crayons, spit out half chewed bread and threw pizza across an Italian restaurant.

She dumped her plate full of ravioli all over our kitchen floor.

She kicked off her shoes and demanded to walk around barefoot at the mall.

She would go “boneless” (completely limp) at the first mention of “time-out”.

She would grab fistfuls of her mother and I’s face in an effort to literally pull the skin clean off our skull.

“What happened to my sweet little girl?” I recently asked myself over an empty bottle of Malbec.

View All Photos | ... really hard! | Papa Koenig

The signs of parental abuse were there early on.  I should have seen this coming.

I’ve heard from various people and read on numberous blogs that the terrible twos are “a myth” and that the concern should happen when they turn three.  Well… I’m here to tell you those people are full of bullshit.  I don’t think you know when the “testing” will come.  Bunny and I have done everything… EVERYTHING… to ensure DLG has had nothing but love, affection and discipline from both of us.  I also think we give her faaaaaaaaaaaaar too much credit sometime and imagine her as being able to overcome two-year-old tendencies because she IS such a genius.

Although… with her genius tendencies she holds the power to become an incredible turd while maintaining her puppy dog eyes sweet demeanor.  Recently, after taking her blue magic marker to an expensive piece of furniture in her room, she looked up at her mother as smoke billowed from her ears and said, “I love you mommy!” 

“……….” was Bunny’s response.

She looked at me and said, “SO… WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO NOW????!!!!!”  That comment did elicit a laugh from either of us at which point completely destroys the credibility of your argument with her altogether.

She’s testing her boundaries and she’s doing a damn good job of it. 

Doesn’t she know that I’m twenty times bigger than she is?  Isn’t she intimidated?

Hell no.  Something tells me she just might be getting started.


I’d be interested in hearing any one elses horror stories.  It helps ease the pain knowing that other parent’s little angels can become little turds too.


15 responses to “Dammit. The Terrible Twos Are Real.

  1. So she’s figured out that she’s got a mind of her own, has she? Damn, it sucks when that happens.

    I was a great parent before I had kids, too. I KNEW that kids who misbehaved OBVIOUSLY had remedial parents and that I could do a MUCH better job. Then I actually had kids.

    And I learned that sometimes? Kids can be assholes. Sometimes they excel at asshole.

    But you guys are good parents. You will figure it out. She will push you and you will learn to push back effectively. You will be glad that she has enough spirit to challenge you when she learns to channel that spirit positively instead of, say, putting your Rolex in the toilet. (We still don’t talk about that. That was a dark time.)

    Good luck. The twos are hard. The threes are not exactly a trip to Tiffany’s either, but you’ll get it figured out. Or, you’ll stumble around in the dark wondering where the booze is and why you can’t find your panties (that CAN’T be just me, right?) but either way, you’ll get through it. And then she’ll be a teenager and you’ll miss the hell out of these days.


  2. For the reason you give here, that your girl knows how to say she loves her parents, the Terrible Twos are worth it.

    They actually took their time with our boy. Until recently, I thought the Terrible Twos were a myth, or something that only happens to other people, like being hit by lightning while dancing with umbrellas. But no. It’s here.

    Still, my suggestion is to stand your ground while remaining compassionate toward the kid who’s testing you, and remember the are better times ahead. Our boy is almost three, and I kind of feel we’re almost at the end. Maybe I’m fooling myself, but it seems like even he doesn’t take his tantrums that seriously anymore.

    • I believe that remebering there will be an end to all this behavior is key… it just sucks you don’t know WHEN the end is going to happen. If you knew, “Hey… I’ve got three more days of her acting like this” rather than “When is she ever going to stop!” it might be easier to handle. But hey… that’s life isn’t it.

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  4. Rachael in Australia

    Our daughter is nearly 2 and the most ineffective tantrum-thrower we’ve had (she’s number 6). She carefully lowers herself to the ground and then in complete SILENCE flutters her eyelashes. It’s so hard to keep a straight face because it’s obvious, that in her mind, she’s really letting us have it! Should I let her know that it might be more effective if she made some noise?

    Every child is different – a cliche but true. I’ve had some delightful 2 year olds and also a couple of horrors. My most difficult toddler grew into a wonderful child but, now that she’s hit the teenage years, she seems to struggle with hormones more than the others. I do have a theory that an easy toddler will be an easier teenager and same deal for the harder ones. This has proved true with my 2 teenagers so far (one easy, one hard). I may well have to eat my words on that one – humility and parenting go hand in hand. I blush when I think of some of the parenting theories I used to hold.

    I found your blog via Jenni’s. I’ve been reading for many months and really enjoy your writing and perspective. It makes a change from the big family, homeschooling blogs I usually read!

    • Hi Rachel! Thanks for the advice and thanks for reading even though I deviate from your normal blog reads! It’s nice to hear that what I write about can appeal to a wide range of folks.

  5. Oh Chris, this made me smile 🙂 Ya know, I think as far as well-rounded kids go, I have two of the best. But man, at that age, I was ready to run for the hills, and even now, they push my buttons almost daily.

    I started reading about kid development to better understand, and I also started repeating to myself in a chant, not all kids are the same. They are unique individuals with personalities…so while one two year old might sweetly sit through dinner at a restaurant and another throws food, it doesn’t mean one is better or worse.

    Consistency is the key, I believe. I have learned that my little one is a free spirit, so what works with her is entirely different than what works for my reserved older child. I can talk to her and she’ll be in tears, but the little one, I have to use a little force. Not spanking, but grabbing her arm enough so that I have her attention…otherwise she’d run all over me.

    You two are doing a great job. Parenting is the hardest job ever, and will test your emotional and physical abilities, as well as your relationship with each other. Taking care of a baby is easy, but mentally battling a child? Exhausting.

    It DOES get better. Be consistent, love her every day, and she’ll be just fine.

    Now you, you won’t be for awhile, but you will in time, bahahahahahaha!

  6. You are going to hate me… but I never experienced from either of my kids a terrible two or three?

    I guess our Father in Heaven knew I couldn’t handle it? You guys are much tougher and braver than I am.

    I did, however, teach both of them sign language starting around 6 months old… I think that may have helped… but who really knows!?

  7. I thought River was testing my patience when she was 2. Then she turned 3, and I realized that, in fact, she was just getting started. And yes, sometimes they do things so incredibly wrong, but are also kind of funny, and you have to bite your cheek to keep from laughing so you can tell them (in all seriousness) that what they just did was not OK.
    The twos and threes are a minefield, and each parent has to figure out how to best handle it without beating their children. It becomes much more difficult during this time. I catch myself constantly, when River causes me physical pain during a tantrum. I have very strong reflexes of immediately hitting back when I’m hurt (from having so many brothers growing up, you had to be quick with the retribution). So I literally stop my hand and shove it behind my back. I take a deep breath, sometimes let it out in a loud yell, but usually grab her arm, get down on eye level with her and talk very sternly, so she can see how angry I am. She doesn’t like it when I’m angry. Nobody does. Sometimes I can just tell her that what she is doing is making me angry, and she’ll stop.
    I am also amazed that Paul and I have any skin left on our faces from her trying to rip it off, like you said. Don’t worry, she’ll get stronger and more accurate in her attacks soon. Then you really have to watch out for the family jewels.
    The worst thing that she has done recently involved scissors. It was my fault for thinking she would be content to continue cutting paper while I went to the bathroom. Bad Mommy. I came out, she had cut her hair, all her animal’s hair, a strap on her (brand new) shoes, and her t-shirt that she was wearing. I was only gone for about 4 minutes. The steam thing from the ears? Oh yeah.
    She has continually made enormous messes (drawing on stuff, spilling stuff, throwing things down, etc), but I just make her clean them up herself, then it’s not so much fun to make them anymore.

    Good luck with this stage. It lasts a few years. It just evolves. 😉

  8. Yeah, they are not a myth. They have a lot to do with them trying to set new limits. Just keep doing what you’ve been doing and hopefully things will even out. Just as long as you know it might now.

  9. Welcome to my world! I know my son is a few months younger than DLG, but he hit that stage months ago. Now maybe you understand a little bit better why I chose to use the child leash in the busy airport while flying without my husband. (But that’s another issue—). I can totally relate, just about everything in your list my son has done in multiple times in the past month. Except biting, thank God he doesn’t bite. But he hits. He hits his friends, he hit his teacher (at daycare) and he hits me. The time when I completely lost the battle was one night after he hit me in the face I picked him up by holding his arms to his sides and looked him in the eyes and said in my firm mommy voice “you do not hit mommy, that isn’t nice and it hurts mommy’s feelings” and he responded to me with his most serious face/voice (probably imitating me) and adding in the pointed finger along with the serious glare “babble babble babble” while shaking his finger at me! I couldn’t help it, I busted up laughing….there was no way I could hold it in….he then knew he had won and started laughing himself…..oh my gosh, I know my description isn’t even a tenth of how funny it truly was, but not–all at the same time.
    Time out is what really works best for us, but every time he has to sit in time out you’d think the world was ending. There are days when they seem to be especially ornery and you feel like all you do it punish them. I know one evening in a matter of two hours, our son had been in time out 4 times. Those days I hate most because since I work I hate spending what little time I do have punishing him. However it must be done. You know before you have kids how you say that your kid will never do this, that, whatever and you will never be the parent that just lets their child do whatever…..but now I actually understand why some people just let their kids run around like crazy people…b/c disciplining is hard! It’s downright exhausting but to me (and I assume you and your wife) it’s a necessary evil that must be done to ensure our little people grow up to respectful big people. I struggled when he first started acting like this but I realized that I have to find what works best for me. I can’t parent exactly the same way my husband does or my friend does or whoever. I’m starting to figure out how he responds best to me and go with it. I really hope though that the other person who said that the higher maintenance toddlers seem to be high maintenance teens is wrong! Otherwise I’m really scared!
    Good luck Papa K, you’ll get through it.

  10. Wait for the 3’s and I hear the 4’s are bad too. Anyway, it is all in how you look at it. They are just learning and testing boundaries.

    We will miss it when it is gone.

  11. Chris, God was, and is, the Perfect Parent, and guess what? His kids screw up royally. So what makes you think you could do better than Him?

    Parenthood = humility. That’s the greatest thing about it, in my opinion.

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