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News & Features » March 2018 » “Take a Deep Breath and Count to Four” by Tamar Jacobs

“Take a Deep Breath and Count to Four” by Tamar Jacobs

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, a three-year-old’s musings on everything, from digestion to life and death, leave his mother without a moment to catch a breath!

Take a Deep Breath and Count to Four
by Tamar Jacobs

Is a tail a private part of an elephant’s body? Is a tail a private part of a mouse’s body? I can see an animal’s tail, so is it not private? Are there clothes for tails? My penis looks like a tail, so if I pretend it is a tail can it not be a private part of my body? Is this salmon dead? Did it swim right before it got dead? Did a bear want to eat it, too? Did we get it away from the bear? If we don’t eat this fish, can we make it back alive? Is banana yogurt alive? When did the banana get dead? If I eat a banana while it is still with a banana bunch on a banana tree, can it stay alive while it’s going down my esophagus before it gets to be poop?

Mommy? Tamar? You are my mommy and your name is Tamar. Hahaha that’s funny. Mommy, did you know your name sounds like the word tomorrow. Isn’t that funny? Ahahahahaha. That makes me laugh. That’s like how Daddy Tony rhymes with macaroni. Ahahahahaha.

I know Granddad is dead. Can we make him back alive again? I know, no stop, I am not interrupting you, I need to say something! I need to say something that is important! Mommy, telling stories about people who got dead does not really make them back alive, Mommy. No. It doesn’t. Mommy, do you know what alive is? It’s my heart beating and your heart beating and blood going, and if you are a plan,  you are outside in the dirt growing up.  You can’t make something back alive again with a story about the thing dead. Daddy, daddy, daddy!!!! Will you tell Mom about what alive and dead is?

Why doesn’t Peppa Pig have a penis? I can see her tush, why can’t I see her penis? Well, I can’t see her vagina either. Why can’t I see Peppa Pig’s vagina? Daddy, Daddy, Daddy Tony, I don’t think Mommy knows the answer about why doesn’t Peppa Pig have a penis or a vagina!? Oh, ok.  

Oh, please don’t sing Mommy. No, it kind of hurts my ears while I am trying to listen. No, that’s not real music when you sing. That’s not a song, it’s noisy. Can you sing in a more inside voice maybe just in your head, Mommy?

Mommy, I am not interrupting, take a deep breath and count to four. Ok, Mommy, can you just take a deep breath and count to three. It’s ok, Mommy. It’s ok, Mommy, listen! Mommy listen! Mommymommymommy wait! Listen! I saiiiiiiiiid something. What I said was that I know how to use a scissors and it’s OK. Yes. Snowflake’s hair looks good see? See? I didn’t hurt his ears and his hair looks good like this. I think it feels nice like refreshing for him. Look you can see his skin is pink. Now he can feel the air, you know like opening the window in the car.

Are you resting so you can have more energy? Okay. Can I walk on your back while you are lying down? I won’t cut Snowflake’s hair anymore, but can I cut your hair, Mommy, and you can watch me while I cut it? Can I read you a story while you are getting more energy? Can I cut your toenails? Can you make me some noodles after you get more energy? Can I jump on the bed—no, not over here where you are but over there so I won’t fall on you? I love you Mommy, it’s okay. Take a deep breath and count to four, Mommy, it’s okay.


TAMAR JACOBS lives in Philadelphia. Her short stories have appeared in Glimmer TrainThe Louisville ReviewHayden’s Ferry ReviewGrist, and other publications. She placed 2nd in a Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers contest and is a Katherine Anne Porter Fiction prizewinner. She is seeking a home for a poetry collection and for her first novel, an excerpt of which is forthcoming in the first online issue of New Ohio Review.


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: Mar 6, 2018

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