Nothing’s Wrong With Him… Or Something’s Wrong With All Of Them

Over the last couple months, I’ve come to an equally comforting and terrifying conclusion.

There isn’t anything really wrong with Kendall, our perpetually stubborn, defiant, spirited first born. I know this because his little sister, nearly 4, once known as our “little angel” is now just as suborn and defiant, but with MOAR WHINES.


Or, it’s possible, that there is something wrong with ALL OF THEM, I make a special breed of children who are immune to positive reinforcement, timeouts, and even threats. Maybe I come from the bloodline in this world that creates every little tiny jerk who ruins dinners out, and runs through grocery stores, and throws themselves on the floor in public places.


Because… brothers.

Oh, I know what some of you are thinking. Clearly, the problem is ME, US, and that is also entirely possible. I’m definitely at the point of accepting that.

In fact, accepting that takes me back to feeling comforted by the fact that there’s not anything really wrong with our first born.

No. But really. For years we wondered just WHAT was so wrong with him that he was just SO strong willed and SO energetic and SO never listening to us.


Our precious first baby really knocked us on our asses off of that very high, judgey horse we rode into parenthood on. The second born was supposed to be easier.

She is, in fact, turning out to be… how do I put this without making people think I am actually the worst mother ever? She makes me want to rip my  ears out most days.

Oh, of course, I still adore her, and still allow her to snuggle me by tangling her hands in my hair half the day. But I’m just saying I could use some ear plugs right now.

The whining is INTENSE.


Because we would not stop mid-Chicken Dance to get her a cupcake.

Meanwhile, Kendall, the first born, is shockingly becoming, like, a really tolerable little person. He is still a LITTLE person, so there is still a lot of little person things happening with him, like testing boundaries and singing about poop at every meal, but definitely tolerable and even pleasant for a greater percentage of the day.


Look at him just quietly doing homework! 

So all that is to say… yay? Yes, I think yay. And also wine for the whines. And also, screw 3 and a half.

And finally,  the Terrible Twos continues to be the biggest lie sold to parents in the history of ever.

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  1. I really enjoy the candidness with which you write about your family! Thank you for not telling us how perfect your perfect children are every perfect minute of every perfect day! Cheers to not just glossing over the less than perfect moments 🙂

  2. I am in a FB group called Toddlers are Jerks. You would fit in just fine. You are certainly not alone I your frustration with the small humans.

  3. Ah! Thank you! You say all the things I think, but more eloquently. SO glad to know we’re not alone managing these tiny tyrants!

  4. And THAT is why I want to bottle up my sweet,little, 2 1/2 year old Denver and keep him JUST AS HE IS RIGHT NOW! I know what is coming….

  5. The whining is definitely strong with the three year olds.

    The worst part of dealing with the three year old is that she only does it for us. When we’re out and interacting with other people or she’s at school all I hear is how well-mannered and sweet and patient she is. I flat out asked the teacher if we were talking about the same kid.

  6. yes! My boys are the same age (6&3) and they are exactly the same as yours personality wise. But my oldest is getting better and the 3 year old gets upset about everything now and won’t stop crying lol. He isn’t a whiner (my oldest is though) but he will cry and cry and cry because his band aid fell off or his brother beat him up the stairs. It’s not just your kids. I feel your pain.

  7. My daycare lady calls it the Terrible Twos, the Horrible Threes and the Even Worse Fours. It’s just a big mix of I can now do things by myself and I want all of the independence, but I can’t do that and mommy and daddy say ‘No’ and GAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!
    Yup, I feel ya.

  8. Lisa Humphries on

    My son just turned 3 on 10/9 and thank God I have spent a lot of time around kids because I knew that the Terrible Two’s were just a lead-in to the Terrorist Three’s (or Terrifying Three’s if that sits better).

    My husband though…Bless his heart. He was all excited about being done with the Terrible Two’s. Yeah. Had to burst that bubble for him.

    • No words of wisdom here, just glad to see I’m not alone. Thanks for being real! I’d rather read posts like this than blogs with posts titled ‘5 steps to have perfect kid’ any day.

  9. I thought I was the best parent ever…until the day after my daughter turned three. She morphed, overnight, into a willful, stubborn demon. I swear. I tell her all the time she is lucky she survived to turn 4.

    To sum up, I am not the best parent ever. But I give myself props for just keeping them alive now.

  10. Oh. My. Word. Thank you for this! In just the last couple days, I’ve been wondering what is going on with my 1.5 yr old. He’s on aggression overload it seems. Hitting, biting, tantrums, whining… Taking him out in public causes my anxiety levels to rise! Exhausting to say the least.

  11. Mickie Geri Farris on right now. Just finished a school conference at preschool about my 3.5 year old’s stubbornness and hitting. Left feeling like the world’s most ineffective mom. ugh.

  12. Jennifer McDonald Madigan on

    Well, we must be related, or at least from the same bloodline, because, when you describe your children, I feel like you are a fly on the wall in my house, because that description is my oldest. TO. A. TEE. My little one is still too little to tell, but I’m starting to think I may have 2 of the same on my hands…I’d send you wine to get through it, but I’m pretty sure I just drank it all… 😉

  13. Kristin VanderHey Shaw on

    The Terrible Twos is definitely a falsehood. At least, for some. Our worst age was the beginning of 4, when whining and screaming were de rigeur. At 4 1/2, he mellowed out and was back to his normal sweet self. It’s like a roller coaster, up and down until they’re at least 40. 😉

  14. This couldn’t have been better timed! Our 19 month old is really starting to discover her stubbornness, and independence, and all of the wonderful things you can do with a nice set of lungs, vocal cords, and a couple thumbs. I’m CONSTANTLY wondering what my husband and I could possibly be doing wrong and always feeling like a bad mom for the whole “I always love you, but I really don’t like you right now” state of things… but seeing stuff like this makes me feel a hundred times better and more normal. Also … slightly disappointed that it was about 4 year olds, and that’s a long way away.

  15. Erin Schonekas Breedlove on

    i think it’s a HUGE mixture of things b/c we all have your children. Society frowns at discipline, not saying you have to spank in order to be effective but unless it’s positive discipline they frown… My kid has been in time out in Ruby Tuesday Bathrooms… yes that has happened, more than once. ALSO people are saying kids are worse these days and while that is largely true, part of it is that you didn’t use to see kids out and about everywhere all the time. Restaurants, etc. Now they go everywhere at every age so we SEE the public tantrums now. Hang in there and drink up!

  16. Emily B Mitchell on

    I have long said that terrible 2’s is nothing but a failure to communicate. Too many times I see a child (in the age 2 range) who knows exactly what they want (to eat, to watch, to do, to play with) but because of their limited vocabulary and communication skills, and let’s be honest, patience, they get frustrated with US for not understanding what they want. My husband and I both work out of the house and we avoided (completely) the T2’s because there was always someone to hold his hand and ask him to SHOW us what he wanted. We also taught him some limited ASL like MORE, ALL DONE, TIRED etc. We are 3.5 yrs old now and a shining star at pre-school. I don’t want to jinx it, but I think we made it through okay.

  17. Heather Sollis on

    Love this. So right on the money. We have got to stop blaming ourselves and give ourselves some grace as we find our way through these years!

  18. I needed this today! I also have 3 kids, 5, 3 and 6 months. The 3 yr old is our girl and we are living the exact same nightmare. Love her to pieces, not the angry whining. Lol

  19. yes, definitely, even though our first was ‘easy’ (don’t hate me cause we got ‘hard’ in spades with the second child), but definitely, the 3’s were much more terrible than the 2’s…

  20. I always said there was worse than two (this was after teaching 2 & 3-year-olds). But I’m hoping this is not true for everyone since our second is 2 1/2 right now and all I can say is WOW!!!! Fingers crossed that for her it really is the terrible twos and three will be a breeze!!! (A mom can dream, right?!?!)

  21. Sara Cavallino Ruppel on

    My kids are immune to time-outs and all that also. Time-outs just make the crying and screaming louder! Taking away any toys – whatever they don’t really care anyway…… ugh..

  22. This cracks me up! I remember my middle was going through this phase where she was “talk whining”…like all day her regular conversation was this sharp whine. Drove. Me. Batty.

  23. Although we are elbow deep in 3.5 here as well, I have chosen to gloss over it all and focus on Lowell. Because his face in the wagon? I die. His face says best what we all are thinking. “WTF 3.5 year old? W. T. F.?”

  24. Tracy Harper Kistler on

    You are not kidding!! I think noah is only a few weeks older than Leyna and the bizarre things he does is just shocking! We had a full blown tantrum today because his little brother got the same toy as his but he wanted it because it had red football players and in toddler world that makes it better. Of course we bought said toy because little brother kept trying to play with big brothers toy. If anyone needs me I will be intermittently drinking and banging my head against the wall tonight.

  25. I can’t even tell you how much I relate to this. Long story short, our notoriously defiant son was suspended out of kindergarten more than 15 times. After 4 suspensions a month into 1st grade, I pulled him out to homeschool because the public school couldn’t wait any longer for his psychiatric team to basically figure out what was wrong with him. His sister – the poster child for perfect behavior for the first 3 and a half years of her life (the one we’d secretly point at to illustrate that ‘see? it can’t be us. look how courteous the other one is!’), is now turning into her brother 2.0, while he’s suddenly making these massive strides toward maturity, earning rewards left and right. Like, WHAT!?

  26. Jolene Mueller on

    And now I shall go a drink the biggest glass of wine in celebration as I no longer have to beat myself up for being such a shocking mother, who have the most amazing 2.5yr old that DEFIES every word I say… And only me…never Dads..just Moms!!! Kids really are the biggest test!

  27. Oh Jill, how your words resonated with me as I read them. We’ve got a 4 year gap between our boys. So take a stubborn, strong-willed boy and suddenly take away ALL the attention that had been given to him for 4 years and you can imagine how that worked out. Reading about Kendall reminded me so much of my older son. The younger one is only 18 months now, but perhaps I should brace myself now…

  28. Leili Hendrickson on

    Yes, the terrible twos goes always into 5’s with my second born. Oh well. It’ll be over before you know it, mama!

  29. My third born, first girl, is the worst. Hardest pregnancy, hardest infant, and hardest toddler. I describe her by saying she’s going to be really amazing at 25, if only I don’t kill her before then. I’m so proud of her spirit, but wowsa. Talk about a test of wills every day.

  30. I had to giggle at the expression on Lowell’s face. He looks so confused. 🙂 Mine are 19 and 18 and I think I’ve reached the point where I have developed amnesia when it comes to how horrible the toddler years really were. Not enough amnesia to have more though.

  31. 3 sucks and then in my experience there is a lull. Then around 8 they just suck again and so far not much has improved (I have 10, 8, 3 and 1). When I run away I’m taking the one year old… I’ll mail her back to her big brother’s in a couple years. 😉

  32. Anastasia Borisyuk on

    I have an almost 6 year old with a big attitude lately and an almost 3 year old boy who throws impressive tantrums. It’s all good. I find that excessive technology and missed bed times make everything a gazillion times worse. Meh.

  33. Love how honest you are about your family! We have a very strong-willed, independent 22 month old who has literally been difficult from the moment he was born. My husband and I have often questioned what we did to get such a stubborn baby! He is never go with the flow, doesn’t listen, has an opinion about everything, etc. So, I totally get it. As he has gotten older, his fierce independence also comes with a larger than life personality that makes us proud every single day. He may be strong-will but he is also insanely happy, funny, and smart. We are starting to see the light. They are like this for a reason. And I think that reason is because they are destined to do big things. 🙂

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