The Tricky, Tenacious Twos

Terrible is a very strong word. Therefore, I hesitate to use the word “terrible twos” to describe my daughter, even on her worst days.

Tricky, though? Oh, yes.

And tenacious? Yes, and yes.

Em is two and a half now. Yippee (exclaimed with a very sarcastic undertone).

For those of you who have not yet experienced parenting a two-and-a-half year old, and for those of you who do not remember what your kids were like when they were two and a half, and for those of you who have miracle toddlers who behave beautifully all the time, let me share the joy of this stage.

First of all, Em has about 18 teeth simultaneously pushing their way into her mouth. Not pleasant. To help take the edge off her pain, Em chews on her fingers. She also likes chewing on people (which is even less pleasant than watching her sticking her whole fist in her mouth). C and I have yet to introduce Emmy to the whole Twilight saga, so I don’t know why she thinks acting like a vampire is cool.

I looked up “muzzle for kids” on Unfortunately, they only offer the Hannibal Lecter style of human muzzle, not a Dora the Explorer or princess-themed muzzle that Em would actually ENJOY wearing. Do you think Disney and Nick Jr. would license their characters for use on child muzzles?

I jest, of course. I would never put my child in a muzzle. It’s hard enough getting her to agree to put on a shirt.

Another issue we are currently running into is Em’s inconsistent sleep schedule. On daycare days, Em takes two hour naps from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. This would be a GOOD THING, of course, if it meant she was also able to go to sleep at a decent hour in the evenings following daycare days. Instead, she becomes super wired from her afternoon siesta, and stays bright-eyed and bushy tailed until about 10 p.m. I am pretty sure 10 p.m. is not a recommended bedtime for tiny tots. I have tried to convince her teachers to cut her nap short, but apparently my request is problematic, for whatever frustrating reason.

On the days that Em is NOT in daycare, she doesn’t nap at all. This is a GOOD thing, in that she is in bed and asleep without any issue by 6:30 p.m. But it is also a NOT-SO GOOD thing, in that the last few hours of her non-nap days are spent with her in a state of near-catatonia. She stares into space, mumbles incoherently, and walks like a drunk. Not so cute on a two and a half year old.

There is no middle ground. There is no day when she takes a quick but much needed EARLY nap. She is either Zombie toddler or Night Owl toddler. Yayyy.

Other issues?

She seems to be making up for her rather small stature by trying to control everything around her. In other words, Emmy is turning into Napoleon. She often barks orders at us like we are her minions (of course, we try our best to remind her to ASK us to do things with her or for her, rather than TELLING us to do things). One of the most often heard phrases around our house is “Talk like a ROBOT!” or “Talk like a MONSTER!” or “Talk like MAP!” (which means we should talk like the map in Dora the Explorer). Yesterday, while we were doing our grocery shopping, Em wanted me to talk like Thomas the Train the ENTIRE time we were at the store. Apparently, she doesn’t like it when we talk like PARENTS. Because parents are super boring, compared to monsters and robots and… maps? I LIVE for the day when she outgrows this phase.

Emmy also pretends she is stuck, like, ALL the time. She’ll walk into any given room, get down on the floor, throw one leg up in the air, and scream “I’m STUCK! I’m STUCK! I need help!” Or she’ll crawl under a table and get herself stuck, specifically so she can TELL us she’s stuck.

I actually remember going through this phase myself as a kid. I remember wedging my body between a sofa and a wall, and screaming for my mother to come and help me. My mom just came over to me and told me that I had gotten myself stuck, so I could get myself UN-stuck. After panicking for a few minutes, realizing that I had to rely on my own ingenuity to figure out an escape route, I finally managed to wiggle myself free. I think it was a useful lesson. Therefore, unless Emmy truly seems STUCK, I tell her she needs to figure out how to un-stick herself.

Emmy is also scared of going into rooms by herself.

She also needs her sandwich to be made a very SPECIFIC way.

She also throws fits when we don’t let her have bandaids (she doesn’t NEED bandaids, mind you. She just wants to put bandaids all over her body on imaginary boo boos).

I’m no dummy. I know that all of this behavior is just Emmy being a two and a half year old who is growing increasingly aware of this big world, and is therefore anxious and acting out. Emmy needs love and attention, as well as guidance and rules, to help her get through this phase. It’s our responsibility and our JOB, as parents, to give her those things. Right now it is just a very EXHAUSTING job that requires a heck of a lot of patience.

But I’d like to end on a positive note (because that is just who I am). For as many headaches as Em provides in any given 24 hour period, she also provides many laughs, many hugs, and many “awwwww” moments. She floors me with her intelligence, her humor, and her heart. She’s as terrific as she is tricky, and she’s as tremendous as she is tenacious. 

Dvora Koelling

Parenting with imagination. Or at least trying.


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