What to Expect From the Terrible Twos

by Ellie Thompson

Hold onto your hats, my friends! It’s the terrible twos!

Nah, personally, I think these toddlers get a bad rep. I’m only going on the experience of Maddie of course, as Billy is still only a tender 10-month-old baby. We found Maddie to be much more tricky during the first 12 months of her life, and just that little bit easier every month after.

Maybe it’s just us. Maddie had so much to deal with in her early days and months. Gut issues and reflux made her life hell until she could walk, and once she was able to get around and do things for herself, life became so much easier. Before that point, she was consumed with a lot of frustration.

The days of putting her into a car seat screaming have passed (mostly). And the hunger! – Oh, there’s nothing like the rage of a hungry baby that cannot communicate. Every single afternoon on the way back from the childminder’s, Billy, as Maddie did before him, screams for his supper. All. The. Way. Home.

It turns out my experience is completely at odds with every other parent I’ve spoken to with children approaching the two-year milestone. They’re all freaking out at how unruly their child has become, overnight, all of a sudden.

But we’ve been in training for this for nearly two whole years, and it turns out, NEWSFLASH! The terrible twos are really not that bad. Yep, honest!

According to the experts, the terrible twos are a completely normal stage (yes, don’t panic, it’s all normal) in their development. They’re now able to walk; they’re learning to talk; they’re forming opinions and learning about emotions.

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Their verbal, physical and emotional skills are not quite up to scratch, which is a source of constant frustration for them. They’re in a state of flux – bouncing between reliance on adults, but with a new burning desire to be in control and exert their independence over EVERY SITUATION.

What to expect from the terrible twos

Temper tantrums

Ohhhhh yeah: to the point where you need to have a qualification in crisis negotiation just to navigate your way through the day. (And by the way, if you don’t happen to have a qualification in crisis negotiation, don’t worry – you’ll soon be adding that particular skill to your LinkedIn profile.)

We’re talking off-the Richter scale temper tantrums that come out of nowhere, and sometimes dissolve incredibly quickly, but other times escalate to heights you never knew possible… leading quite nicely onto…

Mood swings

Not going to lie, your child’s spirit animal right now is the Dilophosaurus from Jurassic Park. You know the one! It’s the cute dinosaur that makes sweet noises at the fat guy who’s lost his glasses in the waterfall and then out of nowhere, completely unexpectedly and for no apparent reason, proceeds to scream with abandon and spit in his face. That’s a toddler.

Inability to reason

And if you DARE tell your child to ‘calm down’ you’ll find out quite quickly you may well have just doused yourself in petrol and danced a jig around a raging inferno.

There is NO WAY on this planet your child is going to listen to reason mid-tantrum. Or at probably any other time right now. And that’s because reason isn’t quite fully established in their psyche just yet… But don’t worry; I’m sure we don’t have much longer to wait… (Oh please, GOD! Let it be true!)

“I want chocolate bis-gee-it!” she demands.

“Um, noooo...” I say politely. “We don’t eat chocolate biscuit for breakfast, it’s only seven o’clock in the morning!”

“Raaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”

Saying ‘no’ usually goes down like a cup of cold sick, and that’s on a good day.

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Independence

They want it. They can’t have it. They get mad. - Repeat previous steps above.

Manipulation

These little critters are master manipulators. Yes! These guys are the finest Hollywood actors, each worthy of Oscars in all five major categories. Their specialities are (in no order of appearance): fake crying; emotional blackmail; victim role-play; compulsive lying; playing parents off against one another:

“Daddy said I could have ‘Eeezy Otzits for breakfast!” she screams…

“No, Maddie. Daddy did not say you could have cheesy Wotsits for breakfast. Cheesy Wotsits are most definitely not on the breakfast menu, look again, kid.”

Honesty

Okay, I’ll correct myself. They’re not outright “compulsive liars”, in actual fact, they can choose to run a hard line in honesty, so brace yourself.

“Mommy? Is there a baby in your tummy, your tummy looks BIG!”

[Mommy weeps silently into her Branflakes]

“Ah man, I love this song!” Mommy says dancing in the kitchen, turning the radio up while finishing up the breakfast dishes. “Did you like that one?”

“NO.” she says pouts firmly, cross-armed and visibly livid that I didn’t put Taron Egerton’s ‘I’m Still Standing’ on for the seven hundredth and fifty-eighth time in THREE DAYS. Five, four, three, two, one CUE SCREAMS.

Now there’s a good segue into my next very important toddler point…

Repetition

They love it. Repetition is their thing. It’s turkey meatballs every night and we make no apologies. She’s just bonkers for meatballs!

(Disclaimer – we do mix up the menu, but for the purpose of comedy, please kindly roll with the exaggerations in this post!)

They INSIST on watching episodes of the same TV program again and again, and again, and again...

It took us just over a year’s intent viewing of Cbeebies musicals The Snow Queen and The Story Of Mr. Tumble on repeat before we finally put those two gems to bed. I still get those songs stuck in my head on rotation while I’m lying in bed at night. “Winter roses, sparkle in the niiiiiiiight!”

Just letting the universe know: I HATE MUSICALS.

We’re planning on watching ‘Sing’ for the 1,004th time this weekend.

Potty Training

Phewf! This is the big one. Apparently I was trained within the day at 18 months old. What. a. trooper.

Of course, I expected to be just as lucky with my toddler. It had to be in the genes right? A knack and a talent (I was good at something, once) that would surely pass down through the ages…

I thought we’d be done and dusted in a long weekend at least.

Five weeks on – we still haven’t quite cracked it, but we’re getting there. The trick is to keep positive, keep happy, and keep up the praise. It can be reaaaaally hard (a bit like the poos that they opt to stifle for diaper on times i.e. nighttime and naptime because they don’t quite like the idea of pooing in the potty just yet) to keep sane when it feels a little bit like two steps forwards, ten steps back. Hang in there, I feel ya!

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The Tremendous Twos

Meh… but despite all of those things, and maybe because of most of them, I’ve found my two-year-old to be a source of so much joy. She is a tornado at her fiercest but she is also the best fun. Life is certainly NEVER dull.

We’re often in stitches over the things she does and the things she says (although most of the time we have to walk out of the room and laugh privately).

It’s the middle of the night. Maddie’s started a cold.

“Want Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom!”

“Maddie, come on, lie down, wait for the Tylenol to work, it’s all okay…”

“I DON’T WANT IT! Want Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom! It’s too hot in here! It’s too hot! It’s too hot! It’s HOOOOOOOT!!!” she pleas desperately, in her loudest shouting voice, while I’m picturing the entire zip code queuing up at the front door right around the block to tell us to shut up.

“But Maddie,” I say evenly through gritted teeth. “It’s not hot in here at all, it’s fine, the Gro Egg says so!” I reassure her, trying to tuck her back in.

Instant response: “It’s too cold! It’s too cold! I’m cold, it’s TOO COOOOOLD!”

Okay then! Mommy and Daddy’s bed it is. It’s often a game you just cannot win.

Watching her grow and progress mentally and physically has been fascinating. And the WORDS! The words that come out of her mouth now are just classics.

The builders show up in the back garden just after breakfast.

“ALRIGHT MATE?!” she shouts at them aggressively, head out of the cat flap. “TEA OR COFFEE?”

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Later that day she shouts at Alexa to play Super Potato so she can do a dance for them. Strangely involved a bit of twerking. Not sure where she picked that up from.

I love listening to her growing vocabulary. Every day we’re witness to new phrases that have seemingly come out of nowhere. She seems to be grasping the concept of affection and love too.

“I LOVES ZOO…” she says at bedtime, (well, sometimes when I’m lucky) as she wraps her arms around my neck for a cuddle.

Each day she gets that little bit better at pronouncing words and sentences she couldn’t grasp before… Just gold. These are moments to bottle. All of a sudden, your baby can converse with you! It’s genius.

“Maddie – do you want to go to soft play or the park?” Daddy asks on his usual Friday morning with the kids.

“PUB!” she shouts. Well, it’s good to know we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet – at least some of the time.

Our baby, the one we watched grow from a tiny embryo on a screen is now a walking, talking little girl. Having a new baby in the mix in all his littleness only highlights even more just how much she’s grown.

She’s a fearless, bold, and strong-willed little lady with a very cheeky sense of humor.

Yes, sometimes it might seem like it’s her way or the highway but we have to remind ourselves, she’s TWO. She’s just trying to get a grip on the world. We remind ourselves to be patient and kind – even when the situation is completely infuriating.

Don’t get me wrong; we’ve had our fair share of parenting lows, who hasn’t? We’re all learning on the job. But, one thing’s for sure, whether they’re terrible or tremendous, it’s safe to say, there’s not one parent I know that would swap it for the world.

(And Maddie – when you’re old enough to read this, we think you’re a tremendous toddler, with just a little bit of terrible mixed in for good measure.)


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Written by

Ellie Thompson

Blogger
I’m an anxious but sometimes positive 38-year old mama to two children, a hectic two-year-old named Madison, and our new addition, William (he’d better be chilled – the jury’s still out), born in April. We live in Surrey with my Tesco bargain wine-in-a-box loving husband (lasts six weeks once open – the wine that is!) and our beloved black cat Delilah. I am editor of popular UK parenting and lifestyle website My Baba, and author of The Jellie Diaries, a vlog that detailed our journey to family life via IVF. Shout out to all our loyal followers! :) I run fertility, pregnancy and parenting support groups from our Facebook page and continue to write daily diary entries about our lives as a family, shared primarily through Instagram and Facebook. A lifetime over-sharer, I’m here to blog our experiences from the point of view of a relatively normal (!) family… Enjoy!

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