I tear open the packet and twist my arm around the seat, waving the fruit snacks inches from her scowling face. 

“Here you go,” I say, shaking them again for good measure.

“No! I don’t WANT fwoot nacks!” She howls.

“Fine . . . fine,” I mutter, pulling them back.

“NO!! I want fwoot nacks!!” Her hand shoots out, fingers waggling.

“That’s what I thought,” I sigh, reaching back from the driver’s seat again to deposit the goods in her indignant little palm.

She’s two. She’s very two.

And the past few months have been filled with this and a million other equally nonsensical mother/toddler battles nearly every waking moment (and some sleeping ones).

Of course, I’ve heard all the conventional wisdom about this toddler stage by now, my fourth rodeo with her kind. She’s not terrible, she’s just learning how to be human. It’s just a phase. You’ll miss this. Etc., etc.

But you know what all those golden nuggets of wisdom skip right over?

Living with a 2-year-old is soup and I am a fork.

I can do nothing right in her fluid world of development and demands.

Every morning, we start the dance anew. Is peanut butter too sticky today, or the only food she’ll actually consume but only if it’s on a spoon?

Is toast in four squares—sans crust—still the only acceptable presentation, or is that an assault on her clearly refined triangle sensibilities?

Does Mr. Potato Head require his red oval nose or the one she’s hellbent on making out of the blue Play-Doh that’s dried out, not the fresh yellow, thankyouverymuch?

Are her socks poking her toe?

Is her Pull-Up the Minnie Mouse one?

Does her shirt cover her belly button too far?

Soup.

I try my best to be patient with her constantly moving target of wants and needs, while still maintaining my authority as the adult in the room.

No, you cannot have ice cream for lunch. you can have it after you take five bites of this grilled cheese.

Yes, we must wear shoes when we go outside, here are your favorite light-up ones that I’m not sure I understand why you threw across the front hall just now.

No, you cannot color with a permanent marker, even if you sit at the table and take off your pants.

Yes, I will buckle you into your car seat, the one you always sit in, because you’re still not big enough for your sister’s booster.

Fork.

I don’t love her any less, of course. It’s endearing, in that toddlers-make-no-sense way. And I know she’ll grow out of it, eventually learn some semblance of reason, and laugh at the stories I’ll tell about her throwing herself on the living room carpet when I didn’t play her Barbie right.

But for right now, all I can do throw my hands in the air, shake my head at the hilarity of it all, and somehow work on trying to at least become a spork by the time she turns three.

You may also like:

2-Year-Olds Are Completely Savage

Two-Year-Olds Aren’t Terrible, They’re Just Trying to Understand Life

Carolyn Moore

Carolyn traded a career in local TV news for a gig as a stay-at-home mom, where the days are just as busy and the pay is only slightly worse. She lives in flyover country with her husband and four young kids, and occasionally writes about raising them at Assignment Mom