A lie. A CRUEL AND CALLOUS LIE.
Sure, you have a two year old and you think, jeez, what happened to this kid. You had an adorable little marshmallow running around gooble-gobbling, and then one day things changed and out of nowhere you had this irritable little creature — like he had sand in the elastic of his diaper always turning him surly. But you think: I only have a year of this. They call this the Terrible Twos, so I just have to weather the storm for one year. One. Year.
The only way through is out, you think.
You breathe a sigh of relief and lay your head down to sleep, assured that This Is Only Temporary.
This is the moment where I light a red road flare in a dark room and when the crimson glow illuminates the space, you see that monstrous toddlers are all around us. Crawling up the walls, hissing. Black cricket eyes hungry for your soul. Little claws tickety-click-clicking on wet stone. Squalling, shrieking, whining. SWARMING.
This is the moment where I tell you that I AM FROM YOUR FUTURE, and that the Terrible Twos are not — I repeat, not — the end. Oh, no, dear parent. I am here to warn you:
The Terrible Twos are only the beginning.
The Terrible Twos are just the chrysalis. The child’s body was just a preparation for an ancient, infernal monkey-demon slumbering in his tiny heart. Now the cocoon has been shed and your very own monkey-demon — who looks a little like you and who is now learning to communicate with its human keepers — is loose in your home.
The Terrible Twos?
These are the Terrible Threes. Er, the Therrible Threes? The Threatening, Thunderous, Thrashing Threes? Maybe the ‘That Used To Be A Human Child But Now It Is An Implacable Monkey-Demon Who Hungers For Chaos” Threes. WHATEVER. I’ve heard them called “Threenagers,” because this age is like a porthole window into the teenage years of the child, but taxonomically that’s false, since three-year-olds are monkey-demons and teenagers are mopey asshole-golems. Jesus, it’s like nobody ever read the D&D Monster Manual. Pssh. Pfft! HFFT.
Doesn’t matter. Point is, you’re going to need help.
I have prepared for you a survival kit.
*hands you survival kit*
1. Neck Brace
The monkey-demon’s mood will change so fast, you’ll get whiplash. It’s like watching ten different people crammed inside one tiny body. Happy about a puppy! Mad because it’s not the toddler’s puppy! Sad because some other shit you don’t even know about and can’t control! Inchoate petulance! Drunken glee! Surly silence! Earth-shattering, sky-rending fury!
2. Genital Protection Kit
I’ve layered the inside of a football helmet with a blown rubber Goodyear tire. No matter the orientation of your junk, you need to cover it up. Protect it — because the toddler will not. The toddler will headbutt your crotch. He will knee you. Shoulder you. Punt a Transformer into your most sensitive bits. He will attempt to use your junk drawer as a ladder to reach greater heights. Those greater heights probably include your head and face, which leads me to —
3. A Full Set Of Body Armor
Fuck it, you need more than just protection for your — *whistles, gestures around your nethermost regions* — because the hell-born chimpanzee sees your body as equal parts tackle dummy, jungle gym, and ziggurat of punishment. SWAT up. Hard exoskeleton. Boots so you don’t get a LEGO in your foot. Blast-shield so you don’t catch a Matchbox car in the eye. Anything that dangles? Swaddle it in extra protection. If that little horror show gets a hold of your nipples, she’ll spin them like the dials on a toaster oven. Envelop your flesh in a carapace of safety.
4. Bubble Wrap, Nerf, And Various Other Cushiony Material
You know what? Just cover your whole house up. Your child — and by “child,” I mean, “cackling snarlbadger” — is basically a clown car driven by drunken circus performers. The car has no brakes, the steering wheel just spins wildly on its axis, and it’s broadcasting warped calliope music. Your kid will go head-first into a pitchfork if you’re not careful. Bonus: covering your house protects your house, too. Double-bonus: it also stop all those slammed doors and flung-shut drawers from making noise. Triple-bonus: bubble wrap is fun for the whole family. So when your little snarlbadger takes a header into the TV stand, it’ll make a fun satisfying popcorn popping sound, and the toddler will come away with only the meagerest of head traumas.
5. Band-Aids (The Wrong Ones)
Here are Band-Aids. Your shrieking goblin will need them not because she actually wounds herself frequently (which she probably does) but because she will imagine wounds or demand bandages for the most insignificant injuries. Every scuff, papercut, hangnail or dirt-smudge is an apocalypse that requires a Band-Aid. In this case, the wrong Band-Aid because it’s always the wrong Band-Aid. You have Angry Birds bandages, and she wants Mickey Mouse. You finally go buy Mickey Mouse and suddenly she wants Spongebob. To your tot, Band-Aids are just stickers for injuries that don’t exist. The game is rigged. You cannot win. Enjoy your stupid Band-Aids.
6. Tranquilizer Gun And Darts
This? Special batch of my tranquilizer brew. It’s quaaludes, red wine, Thorazine, and smoked bacon because smoked bacon. Oh, hey, settle down — it’s not for the toddler. This is for you, silly. *fires the tranquilizer into your neck* You’ll thank me later.
7. A Recording Device
Oh! Good. You’re awake. See? Potent stuff. And a bacony aftertaste, am I right? Best hangover ever. Anyway. I have bad news — while you were out, your infernal leprechaun fled the premises, stole a cop car, drove it into a shopping mall, then was a real dick about all of it. Seriously, the police tried to arrest him, and he was all like, “NO, I’M ARRESTING YOU NOW,” and then he peed and ate the handcuff keys. He screamed “I’M NOT PEEING, YOU’RE PEEING. I WANT CHEETOS.” Thing is, nobody will ever believe you that these things happened. This is why in the kit you’ll find a recording device. When your own parents refuse to believe that your child acts like a devil-possessed hobo, now you’ll have proof. You’ll also have proof when they say really weird, really creepy shit. (Recent gems from our own monkey-demon: “You’re taking me to Canada.” “Metaphor and meta-fiend!” “I drink bone-water.” “The skull is coming!” “I’M IN YOUR EAR.”)
8. Noise-Cancelling Headphones
The sound of toddlers are how sane adults go mad. Lovecraft knew it. You need these.
9. The Distraction Grenade
I have filled this flimsy Ziploc baggy (okay, it’s off-brand, so it’s technically a “SipBloc bagie”) with a couple new toys, a handful of Cheezits, some shiny Canadian coins, a book of matches, a Visa GiftCard, and the keys to a home-made hovercraft parked in your driveway. This? This is your Distraction Grenade. When everything goes sideways — when there’s spaghetti hanging from the ceiling fan, when there’s underwear on fire in the oven, when the child has broken you down with his Hannibal Lecterian cruelty — rip the zip and chuck the bag into the other room. The little monster will go see and you will be afforded your escape! Go! Go now! While there’s still time!
10. A Hot Meal
Parents eat fewer hot meals than most homeless people. Every time you go to sit down, something else gets in the way — just as a hot bite of food hovers near your mouth, the squawking pit-gremlin that stole your genetic material has some other dubious need. More lemonade. Less milk. Chair too far from the table. Shoes too tight. Not enough puppies. Global warming. Existential ennui. The list mounts. Madness ensues. By the time you get back to the food, it’s got mold growing on it. So here. Have a hot meal. You can have another one in about two years.
11. A Secret Inflatable Panic Room
Baby needs a time-out? Nah, Mommy and Daddy need a time-out. Behold: YOUR OWN INFLATABLE BOUNCY CASTLE PANIC ROOM. It’s got all kinds of shit in it. TV. Emergency radio. Liquor cabinet. Various sexual lubricants — and, of course, protection, unless you’re interested in accidentally conjuring up another monkey-demon with your rumpy-pumpy-bumpy beast-with-two-backs sex-ritual. I mean, sure, while you’re in the panic room, you’ve basically ceded the rest of your territory to the squalling imp, but c’mon, you pretty much already did that anyway.
12. Facsimiles Of All The Important Things You Own
It’s ironic, really. Teens move into adulthood, looking for a way to make more money so they can have more stuff and bigger houses to store all their stuff (because as George Carlin wisely notes, a house is just a place for our stuff), and then we have kids and end up forfeiting all our hard-earned stuff to the keening, abrasive sirocco we created. It’s like: imagine that you bought a really nice car, and then you buy a wolverine, and then you lock the wolverine in your car. That’s parenthood. But — ah-ha! Solution: fake shit. Fake TV. Bullshit couch that looks like your couch but is really filled with old newspaper and wispy wads of cat hair. Your whole house can be a facsimile! So when your toddler shoves a rotten ham sandwich into your PS4, he’s really just mashing it into a old cardboard box painted to look like a PS4. #winning #blessed
13. A Time Machine
Boom. A red box with a black button. A time machine. Go back in time ten minutes. Toddler knocks over the aquarium, accidentally steps on Mr. Peepers, the goldfish? Time machine. You leave home and forget your monkey-demon’s most precious toy, which is actually just a bunch of paperclips shoved in a pencil eraser? Kapow, time machine. Didn’t realize that saying the combination of words “we’re having fishsticks for dinner” will cause your child such shivering paroxysmal rage that she throws a bubble mower through your new flatscreen TV? HEY LOOK EVERYBODY IT’S A TIME MACHINE. Of course every time you use it, it unravels another vital thread of the space-time universe, but if it gives you an advantage as a parent: WHO CARES.
14. The Backpack Potty
You carry this toilet on your back like a turtle. You need this with you because when your toddler needs to go? You will be 453 miles from the nearest bathroom. Or you’ll be near to a bathroom that looks like a meth addict lived and died there. This also comes with nose plugs and an industrial garbage bag, because for some reasons monkey-demons have the ability to manufacture poop that looks like it came from a 47-year-old overweight diabetic who just ate four microwave pizzas.
15. RFID Tracking Chip
At age two, the toddler wants to be near you. At age three? The monkey-demon is ascendant and wants nothing more than to flee, hide, escape heaven’s zoo and claim its independence. Turn your back for four seconds and your wee one will have dug himself a bunker in the woods and adopted a possum family as his own. Your child needs a tracking chip. Bonus: this one is like the tracking device in Aliens so you know when you’ve got a toddler in the heating vents. You can pretend you’re Ripley! “Game over, man. Game over!”
16. A Vial Of Holy Water
It won’t actually do anything besides convince you that God is either dead or is Himself a rampaging toddler throwing a literally-Biblical shit-show tantrum, but flecking your child with holy water will at least make you feel a little better. Bonus: hydration?
17. An Old Priest And A Young Priest
For when shit gets really real, you might need an old priest and a young priest to perform proper exorcism rites. (Seriously, go watch The Exorcist. If you are the parent of a rampaging three-year-old, you’ll be all like, “Uh, that kid’s not possessed, she’s just three. My kid says worse stuff than that. And she can projectile vomit like a boss.”) At the very least, even if the exorcism fails, maybe the old priest and the new priest can babysit for you. Just let them know that the old priest will probably die by the end of it. It’s totally cool; priests prepare for this inevitability.
18. Duct Tape
The quacking cacodemon you once thought as your child is an escape artist parallel to none. No earthly prison can contain it. No car seat, no booster seat, no locked door, no lead-lined suitcase. But duct tape? If you want proof of God, then I submit the notion that duct tape is our only true evidence of his presence. It is our only Holy Weapon against infernal toddler intrusion.
19. A Translation Device
Parents understand their own monkey-demons more than those unrelated by blood, but just the same, sometimes the little alien will jibber-jabber a stream of straight-up legit glossolalia and then get mad as fuck that you do not understand their mush-mouthed gabbling. “I think he wants a… lawnmower and a couple traveler’s cheques? Jeez, I really don’t know what he’s saying, honey, this kid is a total cipher.” And so, I give you: a translation device. They shriek their Babelian demonstongue into it. Actual human English comes out of it. Magic.
20. A Book Of Lies
The monkey-demon knows how to confound the pure of heart by asking one question over and over again: “WHY.” Why this? Why that? Why dog? Why cat? Why here? Why there? Why circle? Why square? It’s enough to make even Dr. Seuss foul his black-and-white-striped britches in rhyming rage. This book contains infinite lies. When the child asks you a question, just pull up a lie and go to town. “Because cats eat electrons. Because the sky is the barf from a bewildered giant. Because the Council of Mantisfolk met in the year 1743 and decreed it so to counter the Heresy of Lord Samsung the Incontinent.” Stun your child into silence!
21. An Oracle
I don’t know what your kid wants. You don’t know what your kid wants. Here, have an oracle. She’s blind and she huffs weird cave vapors and she’s probably your best bet to understanding what Pazuzu the monkey-demon actually wants.
22. A Portable Therapist
Toddlers know how to hurt you. I don’t mean physically, I mean — they know how to cut to your emotional core. They will whittle you down like a fucking apple. Just as you’re without sleep. You haven’t had a hot meal since a Bush was in the White House. Your home looks like an asylum for hoarders. And then your “child” says something so wildly cruel, it astounds you. “I don’t love you anymore.” “You’re the worst mother.” “I will kill you with a brick and dump your body in a river because that’s where you belong, you worthless little cricket. Also, those pants make you look fat, Daddy. You’re fat. Fatty-fatty-fat.” So please enjoy this therapist. His name is Dave.
23. Okay, No, That’s Not A Therapist
By now you’ve noticed that the “therapist” is really just a bottle of wine with googly eyes glued to it. Whatever, shut up, it works. Just drink it. Fortify yourself. Say hi to Dave for me.
24. A Book Full Of Vital Phone Numbers
You need these numbers. Poison control. Police. Fire department. EMS. All the good babysitters. All the bad ones. That lady who you’re pretty sure died in 2011 and actually now she’s just a wraith haunting the feral cat colony she calls a home (hey whatever, a babysitter is a babysitter). This is a special codex. With these phone numbers, you can help banish the archfiend that haunts your toddler. For a time. For a time.
25. A Crate Marked “Free Baby Otters”
This is the eject button, right here. It’s a crate. It’s marked FREE BABY OTTERS, which is not a command so much as it is an offer — a lie of an offer, a cruel deception, but whatever. Who doesn’t like otters? Here’s the trick: put the toddler in the box. Take the box to PetSmart. Leave it there. Hurry away. Someone is all like “HEY YO, HONEY, LOOK, A BOX OF OTTERS, YOU WERE JUST SAYING YOU WISH YOU HAD SOME OTTERS,” and then they open it and it’s like Pandora’s Box because the evil jumps out upon them and claims these unwitting fools as its parents.
That is the miracle of childbirth.
Enjoy your life free of the monkey-demon.
(OKAY FINE, nobody wants to actually be free of the monkey-demon. But man, three-year-olds are hella batshit — and hopefully, posts like these help you cope with them as much they help me to write them. Ours is full of light and joy and love as much as he is full of piss and razors and bees, but some days you just wanna find a laugh. So: to you parents of toddlers — past, present, future — hope you enjoyed the post. *clink*)