I’ve long passed the stage of investigating every mysterious crash or scream that happens in this house—really, it’s much more productive to just wait and see if someone emerges covered in blood or not—but after several minutes of hearing an odd thunking sound coming from what I thought was the living room I finally poked my head in to see whose toy was getting the Guantánamo treatment.

We’d just returned from the pool and I expected to see Dylan futzing around with one of his plastic horses, content with the knowledge that his parents had provided him with a quality amount of entertainment this afternoon. Instead, I observed him standing on tiptoe in the office, carefully balancing my laptop on its side before allowing it to crash back down onto the desk.


I unhinged my jaw and shrieked incoherently while orange flames shot from my eyesockets sent him from the room, then gingerly sat down to assess the damage. Right away, things didn’t look good. The computer wouldn’t turn on, for one thing. I plugged it in and restarted it, while noticing that it was extraordinarily dusty—how had he managed to coat it with dirt so quickly? When it finally groaned to life the display looked weird, my desktop was all fucked up, even the touchpad felt different.

JB came in to sympathetically pat me on the shoulder and remind me that I could always re-install a backup, while I clicked around in a tearful frenzy. All my current stuff was gone, shit, all my files, my photos—it was like the hard drive had been knocked around and was somehow serving up data from several months ago. The system was running so slow I couldn’t even get Disk Utility to run. And why did the display look so shitty? Had he broken some kind of . . . graphics card . . . thingie, too?

The worst part, I thought, was that I didn’t know how I was ever going to forgive my own child. What kind of clueless asshole kid just destroys a computer for no good reason? I mean, I know he’s a toddler, but for god’s sake, why? WHY?

I retreated to the kitchen and slumped over the counter, spiraling further into a pit of despair, with visions of grim-faced Genius Bar hipsters sadly shaking their heads at me. I’m sorry, they would murmur, respectfully drawing a white sheet over my darkened laptop screen, we did everything we could.

As I imagined the difficult task of writing the note that would be pinned to my son’s jacket as I left him on the steps of the orphanage—should it start with “Dear Sirs,” or would “To Whom It May Concern” be more appropriate?—JB called from the office, “Hey, so I think I have good news for you. This is not your laptop.”

It turns out Dylan had swapped my MacBook Pro with my old, long-defunct laptop. He’d taken my broken laptop from the bottom of the office bookshelf where it’s been sitting for nearly a year:


He then put the old laptop on my desk and carefully stashed my newer MacBook back on the bookshelf in the exact same location.

What he was actually doing with my old laptop when I caught him is anyone’s guess, but my working theory is that he was trying to plug it in. As for how I didn’t realize I was trying to fix a computer that was smaller, older, and running a completely different operating system (to name a few differences), I have no good explanation other than “child has broken something!” made a lot more sense at the time than “child has secretly replaced this thing with a different thing altogether!”

I’ve upgraded him from clueless asshole, but I’m not sure devious little fucker is any better. O, this kid. I have never loved so fiercely something that was capable of being this annoying.

(Dylan, smiling beatifically and batting his fifty-foot lashes at me: “We don’t touch Mommy’s picyooter any more, RIGHT? Right.”)


46 Responses to “Terrible Twos apparently giving way to Please Pass the Xanax Threes”

  1. Steph T. on January 30th, 2011 10:30 pm

    Wow…I don’t think I could have come up with something that devious and clever. And I, like you, would not have noticed the difference in the full on panic mode. I’m just waiting for the next “adventure”.

  2. Donna on January 30th, 2011 10:36 pm

    OMG! I just can’t even imagine why.
    Why he was doing it in the first place, why he changed them, why he didn’t do it to the new one, why he was only letting it fall on the desk instead of the floor, why why why?

    Oh, sorry, you already said that.

  3. Emily on January 30th, 2011 11:22 pm

    I am trying not to laugh too loudly as I don’t want to wake our two year old monster. That is a hilarious story. I guess I should stop trying to usher out our current phase as more fun is apparently around the corner!

  4. Kris on January 30th, 2011 11:37 pm

    I keep saying I wish 5 would just hurry up and get here, I’m done with 2-4.

  5. t.cup on January 31st, 2011 12:00 am

    hahahahahahah! as another owner of two macbook pro’s that look similar but different…. knowing that my laptop is like my fourth child, and thinking that one of the (actual, live) children might have damaged it, i too would probably overlook glaring differences and pass straight into daze of ‘oh god – broken computer – what am i going to do with all that free time – deargodpleasedon’tmakemeresorttousingthe desktoppcagain’.

    FWIW i totally found two, three, AND four as bad as each other but in different ways. so stoked about having to experience it two more times. REALLY.

  6. Victoria on January 31st, 2011 12:00 am

    Oh geez!

  7. Jo on January 31st, 2011 12:37 am

    “I’ve upgraded him from clueless asshole, but I’m not sure devious little fucker is any better.”

    That has to be the line of the post, brilliant! :)

  8. Ness at Drovers Run on January 31st, 2011 12:50 am

    OH my gawd, I totally get your post. At 18 months, my (now nearly three) child, cast my one and only Macbook to the floor, cracking the LCD screen, and reducing me to a blubbering pile of tear laced mac-addicted flubber. Since the lcd was cracked down the one side – I managed to sort of drag as much information from the hard drive into the external hard drive that was still connected (by some miracle), and thus saved most of my photos etc. But oh boy, I was so angry for the longest time. My hubby tried, at first to say “Well why did you leave it open?” but only got half the words out before the lazer beams from my eyes sliced him in half.

  9. NancyJ on January 31st, 2011 4:22 am

    Hilarious! You’ve got one clever kid there (or I should say “devious little fucker”)!

  10. Eric's Mommy on January 31st, 2011 5:54 am


  11. Tammie on January 31st, 2011 7:23 am

    CLASSIC. It’s like that Louis CK routine where I just nod my head while laughing so hard I’m crying.

  12. Sunny on January 31st, 2011 7:25 am

    It only stands to reason that the genes of two smart-ass, funny parents would result in something like that…wait until the brothers team up. Just pray they put their super-power to work for good and not evil! Good luck!

  13. Christine on January 31st, 2011 7:28 am

    Man, I feel ya pain, sistah! 18 months until 5 years old SUCKED AZZ in our house. Smack dab in the middle of it as my youngest just turned 4. Am done having children…two is like 20 some days.

  14. Amy on January 31st, 2011 7:36 am

    This made me laugh, as I have a very similar child in my own house. Who knows he has me wrapped around his little finger. Here’s to three, may we survive it with our sanity (somewhat) intact.

  15. Mandy on January 31st, 2011 8:54 am

    Does it help any for me to say that 6 years old has been magical compared to the hell of years 2-5? That it’s like someone has replaced my child with a reasonable being who has a pretty good grip on his emotions? No?

  16. Redbecca on January 31st, 2011 9:10 am

    OMG “devious little fucker” is the phrase alright. Right there with you. WHAT goes on inside that BRAIN? OMG OMG

  17. Auntie G on January 31st, 2011 9:28 am

    My favorite part of this is Dylan’s reciting the rule…proving, just like my son, that he ABSOLUTELY DOES hear you/me, even if his actions repeatedly place him more in the “devious little fucker” category.

  18. Angella on January 31st, 2011 10:03 am

    I think that I would have had a complete emotional meltdown.

    That kid is going to keep you on your toes for THE REST OF HIS LIFE. :)

  19. Sunshyn on January 31st, 2011 10:59 am

    Old picyooter go on high shelf, mommy? Wait, NEW picyooter go on high shelf, too, mommy? Wait, better idea, home office door get new locks??

  20. Cara on January 31st, 2011 11:47 am

    This will so be my kid in, oh about 29 months. I can already tell. And she’s got the long eyelashes to pull it off, too.

  21. Heather on January 31st, 2011 11:59 am

    Hysterically funny…but not!
    My devious little fucker turns 3 in 18 days. I feel your pain. I am so not prepared, take them as they come, right?

  22. Deb on January 31st, 2011 12:06 pm

    Dude. I almost had a Sympathy Stroke.

    But listen – get Carbonite. It’s $50 a year and they back up everything without you even knowing it or having to do anything. It’s the best exchange of dollars for peace of mind I’ve ever made.

  23. Amalah on January 31st, 2011 12:18 pm

    Noah actually did destroy a Macbook once. He knocked over a water bottle from my nightstand and it spilled all over my laptop on the floor and fried the battery and hard drive and we lost six months of photos. Ezra had been born about five months before, so…yeah.

    I had the same thoughts of “I CANNOT FORGIVE MY OWN CHILD” until I realized that he wasn’t the asshole who left their expensive, vitally-important computer ON THE FLOOR, next to a nightstand with a giant, precariously-balanced bottle of water nor was he the moron who never backed up iPhoto.

    BUT STILL!!!11!

    I still have that laptop lying around here somewhere. I bet Ezra is plotting something similar to Dylan’s little switcheroo AS I TYPE THIS.

  24. yaya on January 31st, 2011 1:26 pm

    When people tell you about the terrible twos I honestly think they are just trying to distract you from the god awful worst thing in the world heinous THREES :-( Three has been SO much worse than two for us…we are at 3.65 now and I am just counting the days till 4…praying that they are a wee bit better, they have to be…right?

  25. KateB on January 31st, 2011 2:49 pm

    “I have never loved so fiercely something that was capable of being this annoying.” will be immediately copied and pasted into my Facebook status. You are my favorite!

  26. Amanda Brown on January 31st, 2011 3:12 pm

    Oh, there are no words. I think Dylan and my 2.5 year-old, Karenna, could take over the world together.

  27. Lisa May on January 31st, 2011 3:40 pm

    You just reminded me in the most hilarious way possible to back up my hard drive. Thank you.

  28. samantha jo Campen on January 31st, 2011 3:55 pm

    That kid, man. Just WOW. But DAMN he’s adorable.

  29. Susan on January 31st, 2011 4:23 pm

    The Terrible Twos are nothin’, my dear. However, once you survive the Fucking-Awful Fours it does get saner . . . until about 15. Then, all bets are off again.
    Wouldn’t trade a minute of it, though.

  30. Erin@MOmmyontheSpot on January 31st, 2011 5:49 pm

    Holy shit! My heart was in my throat reading this! So my little one is almost 2. He moves his little Winne the Pooh train ride-on toy to get bananas from the kitchen counter. I am guessing this is a peek into my future, no?

  31. Julia on January 31st, 2011 6:26 pm

    I will second Carbonite — it has saved me a number of times. there is nothing better than auto-backup of pictures & in progress documents :)

  32. ccr in MA on January 31st, 2011 6:50 pm

    It impresses me so much that in the midst of this traumatic story, you made me snicker twice, with “As I imagined the difficult task of writing the note that would be pinned to my son’s jacket as I left him on the steps of the orphanage” and “I’ve upgraded him from clueless asshole, but I’m not sure devious little fucker is any better.” Thanks for entertaining in spite of events!

  33. Lori O on January 31st, 2011 8:13 pm

    I’m so glad for you the damage wasn’t “real!” Last week my 3 year old not only dropped our brand new ipad off the side of the couch to reveal a gorgeous crack across the screen, but she also decided to “wash” Daddy’s PS3 controller (which we use more frequently to stream movies on the TV than actually play games) with a dish rag and bottle of Febreze. The [$60] controller no longer functions.

  34. GingerB on February 1st, 2011 2:07 am

    Sorry folks. The book of how to be three was written in hell by childish demons, and seconded by the book of fours which adds random lying to the fighting, shrieking and manipulating. Fun! The only thing terrible about twos is hitting and my petite girls aren’t powerful enough to do much damage. But three? Oh, three is coming my way again and I amd sore afraid. Yay verily, sore afraid.

  35. Jessamyn on February 1st, 2011 5:53 am

    You know, I could totally see my toddler doing this, but the end of your post reminded me how different kids even this age can be from each other, because if Annabel had done this, she would never happily proclaim anything about how we don’t do that – instead, she would well up with tears, start to cry, ask for a hug, and refuse to EVER say she was sorry or that she wouldn’t do it. In fact, she would go completely mute. And then later I would find her doing it again. Ay yi yi.

  36. Katy on February 1st, 2011 7:57 am

    Hells teeth! I would have been completely confused too, my now 4 year old has always been much cleverer that me. And he’s brilliant at emotional blackmail too! When he coloured the new cream sofa in with black permanent marker (why fucking why fucking why) he cried so much he was nearly sick. I had to comfort him. When all I felt like doing was giving him a kick!

  37. Julie on February 1st, 2011 10:24 am

    My devious little fucker just turned 8. On the list of things of oh so annoying antics:
    Performed surgery on my favorite chair with a craft knife; painted the dog blue and pink; reset all the auto settings on my very expensive sewing machine; poured an entire bottle of syrup into the bottom of the bird cage; let the parrot out (later found in the laundry room eating a hole in my favorite blouse), added some “decorative art” to the toy box handmade by one of our friends; lost some vital pieces to every board game we own; hid pudding cups in the sofa cushions (did I mention the couch is, was, white and the pudding was chocolate?); and on and on.
    He has ADHD and apparently this behavior doesn’t get any better. God help me when he is old enough to drive and use power tools.

  38. Lisa on February 1st, 2011 11:01 am

    I linked this and sent it to my sister and sister-in-law. My sister-in-law responded that it was quite timely. She heard her 2-3/4 year old son (who has a twin sister)throw something down the stairs. She thought maybe it was a toy or something. Turns out it was her husband’s laptop. Unfortunately, not an old unused laptop. Haven’t heard if the laptop made it or not.

  39. Amy on February 1st, 2011 11:07 am

    The only thing that saves me from flattening my kids when something like that happens is to keep repeating, “You look horrible in orange. You look horrible in orange. You look horrible in orange.” It works.

    And as for not knowing what they’re thinking…my little monster shattered my favorite giant snowglobe/music box because he wanted to see what would happen if he hit it with a rock!! WTF? IT BREAKS ASSHOLE>>>THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS. And then mommy’s head explodes!

  40. Nicole on February 1st, 2011 11:24 am

    Hilarious!!! Ah yes, the all too familiar “thunk! thunk! thunk!… what’s that sound?… Oh dear God NO!!!” For me it was my two and a half year old joyously slamming my SLR with favorite lens into the floor by the camera strap. Fortunately, only the lens cap and UV filter were broken. But I seriously almost vomited. And it took me 20 minutes of controlled breathing and meditative thoughts to even look a him again.

  41. Lesley on February 1st, 2011 6:53 pm

    That’s some genius right there. I mean, he could have thunked your new laptop but he…I was going to say, considered the consequences, but no, this not within toddler capabilities. For some lucky reason, he simply wasn’t interested in your newer one. His curiosity was for the older one. Because toddlers don’t appreciate differences like newer and older.

    Now, you might want a lockable closet or a cage for… picyooter numero uno. Wha? You thought I meant Dylan?

  42. KarinP on February 1st, 2011 9:37 pm

    Damn, you are funny. From one mom who just got through one major epic ear piercing tantrum, this was perfect timing. I will forever call the age of three, “Please Pass the Xanax Threes”. I couldn’t agree more. The best way to describe the age of three, thus far.

  43. Erika on February 4th, 2011 4:09 pm

    I just love me some Dylan!

  44. Lola on February 7th, 2011 9:12 am

    LOL. What cracks me up the most is that he put the new one in the place where the old one was…which means, he knew exactly what he was doing. LOL. Hysterical.

  45. rachel pomeroy on February 12th, 2011 9:18 pm

    Hahahaa …mine is almost 2 and your story just convinced me to MOVE the computer storage location to OUT OF REACH. I am waaaaay to trusting that he’d never do that to Mommy’s picyooter.

  46. Andrea Fox on March 6th, 2011 7:42 pm

    my daughter just turned 3. I thought I was heading for a honeymoon phase like THE BOOKS tell me. bummer. is Xanax over-the-counter?

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