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News & Features » September 2017 » “The Terrible Twos” by Ben White

“The Terrible Twos” by Ben White

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, is he a teen or a toddler?

The Terrible Twos
by Ben White
“Two” year old

You are so mad. Kicking your covers off and running through the house; knocking over furniture; crying, frustrated; standing stubbornly against my orders, requirements; demands for obedience.

Wasn’t it just the other day when you were born. A helpless, dependent person sitting on my lap listening to me sing you to sleep; staring up from the bottle; wanting to stay awake and be close to me; watching me while I waited for you to grow and gain the motor skills necessary to build castles and throw balls and run through hallways; rough housing and wrestling with me as we laughed. My wife, your mother, was upset at me when I told my co-workers I wasn’t having a son, I was getting a little brother. She did not want to hear that as it came with a sense of her isolation; being ganged up upon by two tight-knit males in her house. She did not want to hear it; face it.

Now the blocks are knocked down; the balls are thrown with malicious intent; the hallways are too closed in for you; the wrestling is a struggle of wills and will power pushing back against conformity; against expectations. And the laughing has been replaced with constant arguing and my own isolation from your young world.

People – other parents – warned me about the terrible twos; I thought not me; no way; not you; not my little-brother son; cut out of the same material as me, despite the half-Hispanic genetics of your make-up; I could not be convinced. Not me; no way; not you.

Not us.

But you are so mad.

The therapists have diagnosed it as an adjustment disorder. But I know better. It is just the terrible twos hitting you; hitting you hard; having waited fifteen extra years. And, as I question myself; my own parenting, I sit; relieved, so relieved; in the hospital room beside your bed where suicide did not claim you.


BEN WHITE was going to be a centerfielder for the Cincinnati Reds, but that required arm strength and foot speed, so that dream ended at the University of New Mexico. With an AA in Social Science, a BA in Creative Writing, a BA in Philosophy, and two years in the infantry, he did what any one would do; he went back to the military. After 20 years in the Coast Guard, he retired with an MBA, an MA, and an EdD. Since retiring, he has earned an MFA in Poetry. Everything he writes is written behind the wheel with the windows rolled down.


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: Sep 19, 2017

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