The Two-Faced Twos

Two weeks ago I started penning a blog post called “The Not-So-Terrible-Twos” Olivia was enjoying a hot streak of not being an asshole and I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Let’s be real. Two is a bear of an age, which why it’s referred to as terrible. Two-year olds are emotionally unstable, hangry 99% of the time, possess an inability to sit still, and want what they want when they want it, your rules and structure be damned. They are exhausting. My days are spent following the trail of messes that Olivia leaves in her wake.

The aftermath of one of Olivia’s “parties” where she empties out everything in her drawers and yells “PARTY”.

But it’s hard not to be smitten with her when she’s bringing her A-game. There is something that’s so deliciously baby about her that gives an extra dose of cuteness to everything she does. When AJR was two, I expected him to act so grown up and do things that I now realize are physically and mentally beyond the scope of appropriate behavior for a two-year old. That’s partly why I think I delight in a lot of what she does. Watching her sing songs with her new budding vocabulary makes my insides turn to goo as I scramble to get my phone and record it.

That’s when I realized that yes, hands down these are the terrible twos. But I venture to say that the “Two-Faced Twos” might be a more accurate description of the emotional roller coaster these toddlers take their parents on. Year two is this wild, erratic pendulum swing back and forth between God awful and I must eat you up I love you so. One minute you are shaking your fist and cursing your own spawn and the next you’re kissing their soft, cherubic cheeks and forgetting that they just redecorated your couch with a black Sharpie.

Here is a breakdown of Olivia’s Jekyll / Hyde routine that over the weekend even had Joe saying “Why is she such a nightmare??”

The Bad:

There was a good stretch of time when I simply referred to Olivia as “your daughter” when speaking to my husband. As in “Do you know what your daughter did today?” Her behavior was so abhorrent that I wouldn’t even claim her as my own.  I may or may not have Googled “toddler boarding schools”. She spikes my cell phone to the ground roughly six times a day when I catch her trying to look at videos of herself, the little narcissist that she is. I cannot take her into a store of any sort unless I’m handing her a treat that is so sugary sweet that even the most understanding of stranger will give me a little side-eye. Once the treat is finished, I either have to relinquish my phone or else suffer her shrill cries of “iPHONE! iPHONE!” While again receiving judgmental looks from strangers that have the luxury of shopping by themselves. I have sidestepped her face down, full-on tantruming body more times than I care to count. Sorry not sorry I didn’t let you have yet another granola bar with 9 grams of fiber in it. Liquified diapers aren’t really my jam. I send texts bemoaning the abhorrent behavior of my surely possessed two-year old. Her terribleness had on one particular occasion reduced me to frustrated tears. Tears that of course I would never ever let her see because then she would know she broke me.

The baddest toddler on the block

Last week, she reached into the fridge and grabbed a carton of eggs only to swing swing them discus-style around the kitchen. God must have decided in that moment I had enough because miraculously the patron saint of mothers with two-year olds made sure that the carton of eggs landed softly on the floor, lid closed, only cracking two out of a baker’s dozen. She looks you dead in your eyes when she does something she knows she’s not supposed to – like dumping out an entire water bottle on the couch cushion, painting the walls, or emptying out the contents of her drawers to create “party time” in her bedroom. Timeouts are so ineffective that I don’t know why I bother threatening them in the first place. She literally sprints happily to the “timeout step” and smiles in my face for the simple fact that she knows it gets under my skin. I cannot break her. She attempts to hit me and blows raspberries during my disciplinary lectures, behavior she reserves solely for me. She routinely makes me feel helpless in controlling her terrible twosomeness and I think she smugly falls asleep each night with that knowledge.

The Good:

I am sort of loving this age too – she typed as her daughter was at preschool for the next two hours and she drank her coffee in peace. I think it may be the juxtaposition of also having a four-year old that is making me appreciate two so much more. As grown up as she seems at time, she is still very much a baby. Her skin has that soft baby-like texture and she’s still rocking a squishy diaper butt that looks adorable in her tight little leggings. Her hands are tiny and plump and her cheeks are totally peaking in their chipmunk-y glory.

How could I ever be mad at this face? Oh right. See above.

Olivia’s personality is big and equal parts hilarious. She is a ham. The girl rarely stops talking and is so emphatic about whatever the subject matter is, even if we only have a clue as to what she’s saying 60% of the time. She is very particular and exacting. Like her brother, she’s very into her “LEGOs” and building her city. Perhaps from over training, she now asks me to take a picture of her and her creations.

She lines up her stuffed animals to do “circle time” like they do at school. One time I observed from a distance and thought it was the most precious thing ever. Then I watched as she spiked one of her animals to the ground not once, but twice, when she couldn’t get it to sit up on its own. It was adorable. And slightly terrifying.

I love the moment when I pick her up from school, even if it means the bittersweet demise of my precious free time. I sneak into the classroom to try to catch her in school mode and enjoy a moment watching her in someone else’s care. Eventually I say hello and she screams “MOMMY!” and races towards me. One time, she ran at me with such force while I squatted, awaiting her hug, that she actually knocked me over. Then she proceeds to tell me about her day and says she missed me.

At the most random times, she cups my chin with her pudgy hand, looks directly into my eyes with her baby blues ones and says “Love you too” in the sweetest little voice. She talks with her hands, true Italian that she is, in a comical way that I can’t help but smile. Her belly is soft, just like it was when she was two months old, and I can’t help but nuzzle into it and blow raspberries to hear her giggle.

She is so rarely still these days, but there is a sweet moment when she awakens from a nap and snuggles into me and lets me hold her. Really hold her and drink all of her in before she asks to go downstairs and wreak havoc on the house and my soul.

Raising a two-year old is not for the faint of heart. Some days the bad column far outweighs the good. Those are the days where I close her bedroom at 7pm and breathe a sigh of relief that she is finally contained for the next 10-12 hours. The days where I am firing off angry texts to friends in the thick of it who know and understand what I’m going through. Ultimately, the good column does win out and for this reason I allow her to continue to live with us. Although, if there is anyone in this world I would trust to make it on her own, it is a pissed off two-year old holding a grudge.

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