The "Let's Ask A Two-Year-Old A Question" Game!

My two-year-old daughter, Eve, is delightful.
Most of the time.

But some of the time she likes to play the game we call, "I'M TWO & YOU SUCK AT PARENTING!"

It begins by one of us, let's say me, asking the happy, bubbly girl a question.
"Eve? Would you like to wear your pink shoes?"

You do this, this question-asking, because you THINK it is a good thing for her development. You THINK it requires her to process and weigh information and then communicate a thought in response.

You are so stupid.

What you are ACTUALLY doing when you ask a two-year-old a question is, on occasion, offending EVERY MOLECULE IN HER BODY YOU HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE MOTHER. For the amount of pain and suffering you will experience for asking your question, you may as well have just set the kid's hair on fire* -- honestly, there would have been less screaming and putting out a fire is comparatively easy to do.

*Pro Tip: do not set your child's hair on fire.

But you don't know if this moment, this second of this day is going to be the moment when asking your child a question will result in fiery tantrums. Like a rat in a trap who sometimes gets a pellet and sometimes doesn't, the unpredictability keeps you coming back for more. (Yes, you are a rat in this analogy.)

But something changes in your child's eyes. Perhaps she senses weakness. Perhaps she is hungry or tired or annoyed by that invisible thing she hates, but you have messed with the wrong question-askee. The fangs come out, along with the word, "No."

You messed up.

You immediately try to switch tactics. Instead of asking if she wants to put her pink shoes on, you ask if she would rather put on her PINK or her BLUE shoes. You think "no" is no longer on the table.

You are wrong.

And now you're in bargaining mode. You can't leave the house until she puts on her shoes, and you have somewhere to be and she doesn't care. And why would she? SHE IS TWO!
"Evie, let's put on your shoes. Let's try the new sparkly shoes! We can go for a ride! In the car! But with your shoes! Can you please put your shoes on? Look, Mama's wearing shoes! Everyone outside is wearing shoes! You have to wear shoes!" Note: Smile in this image is completely faked. Toddler is well aware of that fact.
Which is when suddenly you start saying really crazy things in the hopes that something, anything, will stop the NO train.

"What about rocket shoes! Pony rides! Music! Ice Cream! Cookies! Disco! Sprinkles! Unicorns!" Note: Now looking manic.

Ah. There it is. The terrifying question glint has gone from her eyes. Something you said worked!

AHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! You are now giddy with power! You have tamed the beast and it is possible you will actually get out of the house! With your child! Who will be wearing shoes! For the mere cost of a cookie!!!! (Well, and most of your dignity. But that is neither here nor there.)

The game is over! You are both winners! Hooray!


  1. Hysterical!

    I wish my boss at the office worked that way. I'd keep a steady supply of oreo cookies well within reach at all times.

  2. Mmmmm cookies.

    You do realize that by the time they're teens the currency is not cookies but money....?

  3. I play this game all the time. I'm not sure I'm the winner, though.

  4. Ha- this sounds just like my house. "Should we put on your shoes?" "NO". "Should we put on your coat?" "NO". "Should we get your scarf?" "NO." "Should we get you a treat?" "NO. (pause) YES."

  5. My little girl is the same exact age as Eve (to the day) - what worked for me: stop asking. Just let her know what is coming next one or two times before it is going to happen and then try to make it her idea in the first place. I am a full time working mom with a hatred of mornings ...tantrums do not fit in my morning routine, so I found that tactic to work MOST times :) But yeah, if I forget and ask instead...oh, boy!

  6. Loved make it sound so funny. Of course I will be living this soon enough - I have a 13 month old girl.

  7. Not a parent, former teacher. And I concur with Ker (hee, had to do it, sorry.) The absolute most awesome advice given to me by my Master teacher in school just before entering my 7th grade classroom for the very first time: If you want them to do something, don't state it as a question, BAD THINGS will happen. Because as much as I loved them, 7th graders are just REALLY TALL toddlers.

  8. So, so, so familiar with this scenario. Our answer has been to go with opposites. "Don't put on your pink shoes, Campbell." Out pops the evil grin, and she can't get those shoes on fast enough. Or, "I'll wear Campbell's pink shoes." Can't get them away from me and on her feet fast enough.

  9. You just made me laugh out loud. I have a little guy who is just a couple months older than Eve, and you are so right about the whole rat trap thing. The reason it's so frustrating is that sometimes it works - but we have no way of knowing if this very second is a good time or a bad time! Why can't they have a sign on their forehead that says either 'Right now, I am your angel' or 'Right now, I am a demon child'?

  10. Given the genetics at play here, I would avoid the cookie-for-acquiescence ploy at all costs.

    1. You are obviously childless.
      And troll-like.

  11. Great post,I really like your article

  12. This. Is. My. Life! I see our toddlers are only a few months apart, yours in July and mine in December of '09. This is the most hilarious and true blog. Srsly. I really loved reading it and remembered the silly name after stumbling onto it from googling some garbage about weight loss. Ha! Thanks for making me feel better on that front! You are awesome! And you live in Napa! I used to live in San Luis Obispo. I miss it (THE WINE) dearly! Anyway, enough of the exclamation points... !!!



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