the not-so-terrible twos.

52 Project | Where My Heart Resides-3 Everyone warned me about the terrible twos. Moms at the grocery store. Total strangers at the post office.

Every time someone asked Everett’s age and I answered, I received the same response:

“Oooooh, the terrible twos! Watch out! I hope you’re ready!”

I awkwardly smiled back, as I usually do when I receive unwanted, unsolicited advice or warnings of any kind.

Because here’s the deal….

My kid is two, and he’s not terrible. 

Sure, we have terrible moments and occasional terrible tantrums and sometimes even terrible days (we’ve had a few recently), but to sum him up in all his two year-old toddlerhood glory as being “terrible” would be a truly unfair assessment.

Case in point:

Every morning, my two year-old asks me if we can go “bye bye”. He brings me his shoes with no destination in mind, no grand plan or ulterior motive. He simply wants to have an adventure. And whether we end up at the park or the bank, he is equally pleased, and says, “Dat was fun!” as we walk back to the car.

My two year-old’s favorite phrase is “Dat cool!” and he uses it unceasingly over the smallest of things. See a tractor on the road? Dat cool! Watch momma crack an egg over a mixing bowl? Dat cool! Watch daddy turn on the ceiling fan? Dat cool! 

Everything is cool to a two year-old. My confidence has never been so abundant.

My two year-old loves to play Sleeping Beauty. I pretend to be asleep until he kisses me, at which point I wake up and yell “GOOD MORNING!” while he bursts into a fit of giggles. We can play this game for 45 minutes straight and it makes him laugh every time.

My two year-old loves hot wheels and toy balls and jumping on the bed and being outside. He says “wow!” a dozen times a day, constantly amazed by simple sights that anyone older than two would find boring or irrelevant. He sings in the car, loudly, and dances without inhibition. He runs everywhere and gallops regularly, happy to use his skinny legs to their full capacity.

My two year-old says “hi” to every single person he sees, and will wave at them and repeat his greeting until he gets a response. Sometimes it breaks my heart a little bit when people don’t hear him, but he never seems bothered by an unreciprocated greeting. He just says “hi” to the next person he sees, and the person after that, and the person after that.

Two is fun. Two is all about learning words and learning how the world works and learning how to communicate your needs and desires. I’m sure there are some terrible two year-olds out there, just like there are some terrible three year-olds, and some terrible seventeen year-olds, and some terrible forty-five year olds.

But today, I’d like to speak up in defense of two year-olds.

They’re not all bad.
They’re not all terrible.

In fact, mine is pretty great.

So the next time you find yourself in the grocery store standing behind a momma with a two year-old in the shopping cart, be kind to her and try this instead: “Two? Dat cool!”

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52 Responses to the not-so-terrible twos.

  1. alanna says:

    My two year old was amazing. He was endlessly sweet, kind, loving, curious, patient, etc. I loved two. But the day he turned three…it was a rough year. Tantrums and trouble and a lot less kind and loving. Fortunately, he grew out of it. Enjoy two, I think it was a great year. Here’s wishing you many more great years.

  2. Katie says:

    Two was sweet and manageable around our house. Three ventured into the terrible places: not so much because she was truly awful, but rather knowing that her understanding and reason was starting to come along changed our expectations (in hindsight, perhaps too quickly). But yes, all of the ages are peppered with the great, the good and the bad, and unfortunately, sometimes the terribly awful. I guess it’s just wise to expect as much. 🙂

  3. I have a 2 & 4 year old. I honestly think 2 is the best age and there’s nothing terrible about it. Now, age 3 and 4?? hahah. That has been rougher on us. But 2? oh, 2 is great 🙂
    Katie @´s last blog post ../ / s e v e n

  4. Kimber-Leigh says:

    i agree that 2 gets a bad rap. i loved year two with each of my three kiddos. it’s such a fun year of learning new things and becoming more expressive and being curious about the world. i miss age two 🙂
    Kimber-Leigh´s last blog post ..Two different looks at StitchFix

  5. Saskia says:

    I love how you always come full-circle in your posts.

  6. bri says:

    well i’m jealous. my little man is two in a couple of weeks and it’s been pretty terrible around here recently. maybe at 2 a switch will flip and it’ll be cool?? here’s hoping!

  7. Oh I just love this!! The sleeping beauty game has the be the cutest thing I’ve ever heard! And Ethan is the same way about waving at strangers…the grocery store is his favorite for that. 😉
    natasha {schue love}´s last blog post ..16 Weeks

  8. Kathleen says:

    He is just the sweetest!

    I’ve heard more scary stuff about age 3 myself, and so far age 3 has been full of more dramatics, but it’s also totally not terrible and kind of awesome. usually when my daughter is acting out it’s just because of simple lack of sleep or a desire for attention. I try to keep that in mind and it’s much easier to tolerate the tantrums then. that’s not to say that I don’t have my end-of-rope moments though!
    Kathleen´s last blog post ..meredith lately

  9. Allie says:

    Yes!! This is so good. I felt the same way about our first year of marriage. Everyone told us it was going to be the worst and it was the BEST. A good reminder that we don’t have to believe the negative hype!
    Allie´s last blog post ..Heirloom Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella Salad

  10. Cassie says:

    Two was not bad for us at all either….now the threes on the other hand! My son is just the sweetest kid but boy when he throws a tantrum…watch out! It’s hard, but a learning experience for all of us!

  11. Anna says:

    Thank you! I have always hated that expression! There’s nothing so unfair as deciding what someone will be like for an entire year before they’ve lived it out. Some fool who had a bratty kid and liked alliteration came up with the phrase, I’m sure.
    Anna´s last blog post ..Authenticity in Blogging

  12. Paulette says:

    Hey Ash –

    I am not saying this just because Everett is my grandson – but he really is a sweet little boy. Last week when you were in Mexico it was so incredibly hot. Just trying to play and stay cool inside was not enough for me or Everett. Mitzie had taken him to Chuck E. Cheese when she watched him, so I decided to try it too. The minute I said, “Lets go to Chuck E. Cheese!” he became so excited. After we had been there a while he noticed the big stuffed robotic animals singing and dancing on the stage in the restaurant area. He walked over and started dancing in the aisle! I decided what the heck and danced right along with him!! We had air conditioned fun!! (Thanks for the idea Mitzie!!) Maybe we all need to embrace the two-year old in us and see all the “cool” things the world has to offer us. And when we are upset maybe a little tantrum will make us feel better too.

    Love, Mom

  13. Briel K. says:

    This post made me smile. What a cutie! My niece is about 2.5 and she has her moments too but for the most part I think she’s pretty great! 🙂

  14. Lesley says:

    This is really sweet…and Everett is really sweet… and I’m with you that two is pretty great and so far three is pretty great too.
    Lesley´s last blog post ..Happy 3rd Birthday, Sweet Anna

  15. Awww he sounds like the sweetest little boy! I’m totally convinced now, after all the cutsie photos and now this post <3

  16. Mariah says:

    So sweet! We play sleeping beauty too, except sometimes mama doesn’t want to play. Sometimes she just wants to lay her head down and close her eyes, but my little girl sees her opportunity and gives me a slobbery kiss, and how can I disappoint that by keeping my eyes shut?! Its impossible 🙂
    Mariah´s last blog post ..Fabric Survey & Giveaway!!

  17. Michelle says:

    Ashlee, this makes me excited for the next few years! The game sleeping beauty sounds delightful! My good friend taught her almost 3 year-old how to play “spa” – she reads a magazine while the little one her shoulders and brushes her hair. Genuis!
    Michelle´s last blog post ..Doing Laundry at Night and Living with Tension

  18. Kaylan says:

    I totally agree! I LOVE this age so much!
    Kaylan´s last blog post ..Finley & Me 28/52

  19. Holly says:

    Topher loves to play “sleepover” – we lie in his bed and pretend to sleep. When it’s time to wake me up he kisses me – but he doesn’t really know how to kiss properly, so he just sort of slobbers all over my cheek. I love it 🙂 Two was a fantastic age, but then again, aren’t they all?
    Holly´s last blog post ..Lipstick and Dinosaurs

  20. Haleigh says:

    I saw this the day you posted, but waited to read. So good! I don’t have any children right now (and most likely won’t for many years) but I have watched many children and I agree. My mom always calls them the “terrifically curious twos.” The world is so new, exciting, and wonderful. If you think of all the things those little two year olds do that we adults deem unacceptable, it’s all because they are curious and learning about the big wide world!
    As many others have said, three seems to be the year of meltdowns and tantrums, not terrible but not wonderful. Here is to years of Everett’s continued curiosity and delight in everything being “cool”!
    Haleigh´s last blog post ..My Heart Breaks: Ebola

  21. I have been LOVING age 2. It’s the best. I am crossing my fingers that 3 is great too, unlike what everyone else says!
    kelsey williams´s last blog post from our lake vacation

  22. Jamie says:

    Yes, yes, and yes again! It’s so sad when people don’t respond to the Hi! or Bye-bye!, but so wonderful when they do. My husband and I joke that if we ran around everywhere like our newly-2-year-old does, all the time, we would never have to diet again.
    Jamie´s last blog post ..From the mouth of our toddler

    • Ashlee says:

      I really want to put my fitbit on Everett for a day. I doubt he’d keep it on, but I’d love to see how many steps that kid takes in a 12 hour period!

  23. Sarah says:

    My little one says hello to everyone as he walks down the street, like you my hearts breaks a little when people don’t answer him
    Sarah´s last blog post ..Baked Onions with Grilled Salmon

  24. Linda says:

    I don’t know how two year olds got such a bad rap, cuz it’s one of my most favorite ages ever and mine are 15 and 13!

  25. Emily says:

    yes, terrible twos is a misnomer. The threes are much more challenging!!!

  26. Alex says:

    This was wonderful timing! My twin boys just turned two. I’m with you: there’s only so many times you can have a total stranger say “ohhhh, terrible twos!” or for me: “double trouble!” or the super extra-witty “the terrible two are terrible two!” (while I refrain from running over their toes with my monstrous pram).

    My boys certainly have their terrible moments, and it’s almost always one little man more than the other, but they aren’t JUST terrible. They’re pretty awesome. Who knows what I’ll be saying by the time three rolls by, and yes I’m more exhausted than I’ve ever been, but they are pretty awesome little two year olds!

  27. Karen says:

    I love this. We recently took our 2 year old to the allergist. He hasn’t seen a doctor since 2 year well check, 8 months ago. He doesn’t remember it. So, when the allergist listened to his heart he got all excited. “Wooooow! This is a for real check up!” He was so amazed and so proud.

  28. Shannon says:

    My son turns two on Wednesday and this is exactly how I feel.

  29. Treena says:

    I loved this! I agree with all that you said. My son is the same way and I hated it when the random stranger at the grocery or even the family friend you haven’t seen in a while says “oh! Watch out for the Terrible Two’s” bec my kid is the sweetest boy and not remotely terrible. Then when he turned three, all I heard was “oh! It’s not really the Terrible Two’s. That’s a lie. It’s more true to say it’s the Terrible Three’s.” Well, we’re one month into being three and IMO it’s even better than the two’s as he’s even more communicative now.

    We all have our bad days and all of us have terrible moments. It’s how we look at things and choose to respond to them that define us. You and your kid’s outlook: dat cool!

  30. Colette Davis says:

    I love it. We all have times when we crack it for no apparent reason. My little guy does it sometimes and has done no matter what age he is. I am in my 40’s and have to say I may just have cracked it over something irrelevant 5 minutes ago. Hence I am sitting locked in our loo reading your blog. Breathe. It is nothing. We all have moments like this. Thanks for writing about it. No I can go back out and be calm and have a little fun. Nail polish on the wall will come off, it has the last three times it has happened this week.



  31. A says:

    It is a little sad that while I enjoy reading a lot of your posts, you seem to think you know everything and are judgemental of moms that try to give you advise. As a first time mom, I hope you may find that you learn from other women who have walked that path before. It may not be exactly at the stage they tell you but tantrums exist and I hope you can handle it when it comes. I just think younger moms should heed advise(listen and decide what to take or leave). There is a reason we are put in this world together!

    • Ashlee says:

      Hi A,

      I’m not sure I understand what you mean. I ask for advice all the time from fellow moms (both online and in my real life community) and have put that advice to use many, many times. From where I stand, warning me that my kid will be “terrible” when he turns two is the furthest thing from advice. It’s not helpful or encouraging; it’s pessimistic and presumptuous, especially when it comes from a total stranger at the post office who knows nothing about the disposition of my child. Everett has thrown his fair share of tantrums at this point (he threw one yesterday in fact!), but I stand by my assessment that age two as a whole is not a “terrible” age for us, which was the whole point of my post.

  32. Pingback: Letters to our children: #2 About Labels, Standards, and Stereotypes · The Every Day Project

  33. Ann says:

    My little girl just turned two today. I’m having a moment about it, and the ongoing joke this weekend was of course the “terrible twos,” but I don’t know how much I agree with it. I really enjoyed your post and there is so much truth to it. I think the “terrible twos” idea is all about perception. I mean, Madeline screamed at the top of her lungs at 1.5 years old, but no one thought anything of it. Now, ever itty bitty outburst is labeled as Tsquared. But really, most days, are awesome…just awesome. 🙂 Thanks again for this!
    Ann´s last blog post ..Life-Changing Moment

  34. Oh the heart wrench of an unanswered “Hi!!”. I absolutely love that my almost 2 year old says “hi” to everyone. Gosh, I hope he stays this way. Today was good just 1 unanswered “hi” while at Walmart. But just like you said, he doesn’t seem bothered at all. Absolutely love your blog BTW!!
    Brandy Martinez´s last blog post to wear a blanket scarf

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