Two year-olds are tyrannical. You can set limits and collaboratively problem-solve and you can over-ride their protests, lifting them out of the playground kicking and screaming. But that doesn't change the fact that they act, nearly all the time, like overlords.
Last week, I was carrying Terza home on my shoulders while Primo pushed the empty stroller beside me. This is a near-daily occurrence. Terza doesn't like riding in her stroller but she also doesn't like walking. She's big enough that I can't carry her for more than a few blocks, so I frequently end up putting her on my shoulders. Of course, sitting perched up high opens up a whole new world of temptations for her. One of her favorite is grabbing the sunglasses off my face and hitting hem about the head with them. Because I'm the kind of person who likes to learn from my mistakes, whenever possible, I now remove my sunglasses from my face when she's on my shoulders, and I place them handing from the collar of my shirt, where they are, presumably, more safe.
So there we are last week, with Terza craning her neck and leaning over to grab my glasses, and finding them missing. Then she locates them hanging off my collar and is full of questions. Well, only one question, repeated with an impressive amount of persistence.
"Do your sunglasses hurt you, Mommy? Do they hurt? Do they Mommy? Do they? Do they hurt you?"
"Are you asking me if my sunglasses are hurting me?" I ask, because, you know, it makes absolutely no sense.
"Yes. Do they hurt you?"
"No." I answer, glad that it's a simple question with a reassuring response.
"NO, MOMMY!" she wails.
I repeat my reassurance because I think she hasn't heard: "Honey, it's OK. They do not hurt me."
And she wails, "No, Mommy! I want your sunglasses to hurt you!"
There is only one thought a mother could possibly think when hearing such a thing, and that is: "What. The. Fuck?"
"MOMMY!" she wails, as if I've really disappointed her. Since she's sitting on my shoulders, she is wailing directly into my ear and it is unbearably loud.
I consider doing the whole "Cut that out right now or I'm putting you down" thing where I put her down and she cries for 10 minus on the street while my big kids whine about how they are bored of standing on the street watching Terza scream and then eventually she calms down, so I put her back on my shoulders and within 30 seconds, she resumes whatever infernal behavior got her in trouble to begin with. I calculate that we are only two blocks from home and decide I don't have the time to "address" her shitty behavior. Instead, I will use the shortcut method which involves just telling her whatever the hell she needs to hear to make her stop causing adult onset hearing loss in me.
"OK, ok, fine. My glasses hurt me, ok? They hurt. Are you happy?"
She considers for one blissful quiet moment before crumpling up in hears over my head, throwing my balance off.
"Mommy!! I don't want your eyeglasses to hurt you!"
"Are you saying you WANT them to hurt or you DON'T want them to hurt?"
But at this point, she is just saying WAHHHHH and AHHHHH and MAHHHH.
Meanwhile, Primo, behind the empty stroller, is cracking up.
"She is one crazy baby," he concludes. I have to concur. This much, at least, is very clear.
Nicole is a parenting writer who contributes essays and articles for magazines like Parenting, Parents, American Baby and Babble. She lives in Brooklyn with three children, one husband and a morbidly obese goldfish.