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News & Features » October 2017 » “It Wasn’t Until” by Renee Lake

“It Wasn’t Until” by Renee Lake

Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.

This week, Renee Lake has a new boy in town: he’s two years old and he’s raising hell . . .

It Wasn’t Until
by Renee Lake

I have two daughters, both over the age of five. I never expected to raise boys. Now I have two and they are both under the age of four. The difference between them and their sisters is astounding.

I found out the year my son, Goblin, turned two, how many things you never think you’re going to say. . . ever.

“No, we don’t put our penis on the table.”

“Ok, finish your gummy bears and then you can act like a lion.”

“Mommy’s dress is not an appropriate place for hide and seek.”

“Can you please not drink strawberry milk while standing on your head?”

I have spent nights working on homework—my own and my kids’—binge watching TV and cleaning up puke. I’ve had nights where I fell asleep early and yet the stress of day-to-day living kept me awake until the sun peaked over the horizon. It wasn’t until I had a two-year-old son that I found there are ways to spend an evening you’d never dream of.

Like watching him run around in a Transformers cape and mask yelling “Superhero, save the day!” It makes me wish I had that kind of energy, but also please can he just go to sleep now? Great . . . now the baby is awake.

The door to his bedroom opens at eleven p.m., right as I am winding down with a beer. I see his night light glow in the dark hall and there he is all cuteness and grins. Then I realize he’s taken a huge dump and leaked through his pajamas. Oh, and he doesn’t actually want me to change him so I’m forced to chase him around the living room.

I’ve had sleepy quiet mornings with babies in my arms, all cuddly and warm. I’ve had hurried mornings where I have to get up to get everyone ready before rushing off to work. It wasn’t until my son was two that I had mornings no one could warn me about.

One morning, I get up and realize he’s been up for at least thirty minutes. No one else is home, so who knows what mischief he’s gotten into. I go into the living room and he’s sitting on the couch, sweet and adorable. I walk into the kitchen and there’s the step stool. He’s made toast. How the hell does he know how to use a toaster? And why didn’t he eat the toast?

I’m trying to get dressed, as nothing makes me feel worse than being in my pajamas all day. The baby is cooing at me from his bed, and I’m rushing because Goblin is in the living room watching TV and I know it won’t entertain him for long. I leave my room and realize with horror that the locked front door is now wide open. Thankfully, I find him five minutes later trying to pull the cat out from under the shed. The cat is not amused.

I’ve had a child in my house since I turned twenty-one. Private bathroom time is not something I expect. However, it wasn’t until a two-year-old boy ran wild through my home that using the toilet alone became a gift from the gods.

Now, anyone with children knows the horrors of diaper changing. It smells, it’s gross, it gets everywhere, but you do it because you love them and they are your responsibility.

That in mind, imagine trying to take a shit and the door slams open. He wants something to eat and something to drink, and says it just like that. Then his little nose crinkles up and he glares at you. Suddenly he’s making gagging noises and shuts the door. You give a sigh of relief for peace just to hear him yell.

“Mom, your poop stinks!”

Whatever. If it gives me five minutes alone, I’ll take it.


RENEE LAKE is a mother of four: a teenage daughter with more attitude than a high school cheerleading team, an eight-year-old daughter who thinks she’s a wolf princess, and two crazy sons under the age of four. She loves Halloween, bats, women’s reproductive rights, and spends most of her time wiping snotty noses and working on her next novel. In her  spare time she reads and can be found running around Thedas or shopping at the Citadel. A native of California, she now she lives in Utah, constantly bemoans the state liquor laws, and dreams of writing a best selling novel in the near future.


Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Oct 26, 2017

Category: Original Fiction, Terrible Twosdays | Tags: , , , , , , , ,