A respectfully unnamed member of our household has been in the throes of The Terrible Twos long enough and severely enough for me to consider rattling the classifieds section of the newspaper at him (I took the same approach with our dog in his destructive phase ten years ago. It didn’t work.)

And, yes, I’m aware of what you think is misplaced capitalization; what we’ve been experiencing gets proper-noun status, it is what one would expect from an undersized dictator. A sociopath. A drunk, high, and bipolar chimpanzee.

The sweet little darling I used to let loose at a party to happily frolic and socialize, the occasional target of bad behavior but rarely on the giving end, the kid the other moms hated me for has been replaced by a tornado of limbs and available hard objects, aimed squarely at whatever creatures lie in his path, human or beast.

I now unleash him with care, after surveying the room for probable victims (quiet, compliant, and younger is always a dangerous combo). Most often, his frustration/rage/inertia is directed at his ten-month old sibling, which is the most distressing of all the possible scenarios. It sucks when one’s mama bear comes roaring out of hibernation… at one’s own kid.

At playdates and parties now, when my finely calibrated ears detect a child in any degree of discomfort, I drop my cake and sprint, anxiety wadding up in my gut like a clump of wet socks. More often than not, my instinct is correct. The times it’s not, I’m too relieved to feel more than a half-second of shame for assuming the worst about my own offspring.

So, I haven’t been completely surprised at finding myself reassured by other kids’ behavioral missteps. What I didn’t expect, however, was unfettered glee. I can hardly contain my joy when I see fury wash over a three-year old’s face, as long as he/she isn’t my three-year old. I have to quickly feign a cough to mask my blissful chuckle when there’s pushing, shoving, hitting, screeching, and/or hair pulling, as long as my child is ringside. It’s the mom-equivalent of a middle school girl finding out that even the grossest of her body changes is totally normal.

Consolation, in my case, just bubbles up in a strange (and totally annoying) way; if it was me peeling my child out of a pileup of enraged toddlers, I would punch me in the neck for looking so delighted over there in the corner. Don’t think that’s stopping me, though. I’ll do my best to shield you from my radiant jubilation, or send you a THANK YOU / SORRY combo card in the mail.



About Jess:


Unapologetic ice cream enthusiast, devoted equine fanatic, ungrudging émigré, sartorial voyager, writer of all genres, photographic archivist of the everyday. Frequently prone to spontaneous profanity and inappropriately timed bouts of laughter.



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