Things My Mother Did That Were Terrible

His Inherent Ikeness

Ike's preschool teacher said that phrase at least five times this morning, during our parent/teacher conference. So I'm thinking Ike has finally found his post-Baby-Ike nickname of Mighty Zah proportions. His Inherent Ikeness. The one, the only. Lords and ladies of the court, please bow before His Inherent Ikeness. 

She used the phrase to sum up his personality, particularly his penchant for testing every single limit, rule and boundary, over and over and over, like how the raptors in Jurassic Park hurled themselves at the electric fences in search of weakness. 

"Ike, time to come sit in the circle!"


"Ike, you can't play the name game unless you're sitting in the circle."


(Ike crosses his arms and looks staight in her eyes, defiant and yet trying desperately not to smile. Has he got her now? He's totally got her now.)


(Teacher begins the name game anyway, ignoring his tiny rebellion.)

(This is the opposite of what Ike wants. Panic! Mayday! Abort!)

(Ike immediately busts his butt over to the circle, then stops to give his teacher a quick hug and a sheepish smile before sitting down, just to confirm that she ain't mad at 'em, because how could she be mad at 'em? He just playin'. The name game is the bomb. Come give us a cuddle.)

Beyond this (HIS INHERENT IKENESS, THAT IS), he's doing so, so wonderfully well at school that any working mom guilt I had about putting my 2-year-old in a five-day program was immediately replaced with completely pointless guilt over NOT doing the same for Noah and Ezra. Winning! You cannot have it. But really, there's nothing like knowing your child is exactly where he should be, blossoming developmentally and socially, while also having a blast there, surrounded by people who like him and think he's neat. 

His Inherent Ikeness, by the way, probably sounds brattier than it really is. He understands limits and rules and — unprompted — he's an incredibly helpful, well-mannered little guy. He's quick to jump in and clean up messes and put things in their proper place, and always helps his peers when they're frustrated. He says please and thank you and is kind and considerate.

He's also incredibly two, which means he's trying to figure out exactly where all the lines are and what happens when he crosses one. Anything you ASK him to do (or stop doing) will get the default answer of NO. Every damn time. 

But provided you don't let yourself get sucked into his game — as his teacher has already zen-mastered with an all-purpose "Okay" followed by a devastating "Ignore" — he will immediately hop right back over that line and do whatever it was you asked him to do. Every damn time. 

And then he'll hurl his arms desperately around your legs and bury his face in the back of your knees, in search of a hug and a kiss and the assurance that it's okay. That you still love him. That your fence is still there, secure and electrified, to always keep him safe. 

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Aw. The Unbearable Ikeness of Being.


I think your son is my son's spirit animal. I wish you were closer and that, you know, we actually KNEW each other, cause that playdate would be a blast.


OHMYGAH that kid is so cute! You're doing such a good job with those boys.


For a split second, I read that as His INTERNET Ikeness and for that split second I was all "Ike already has his own blog? Internet presence sure, but he is now generating his very own content?" and then my eyes snapped back into place and I came to my senses and your ACTUAL words describing the situation were awesome-sauce. I have my own conference for the not-quite-two-year-old later today and may the reporting be just as awesome :)


Yes! I have described my children as velociraptors since they were about 18 months. Testing, testing, flinging themselves at limits....and then so quick to snuggle. Thanks for this great post.


OMG, I'm so having an Ike. We actually use my husbands name as an adjective all the TIME he does things because they are "him" things to do. He will always be successful because he is "him" and his personality is so dominant that the turtle in my belly is going to copy me and I'm going to be outnumbered. Crap.

Also kinda yay! My DH is one of the best people that I know, unfailing in his beliefs and superhuman in his commitment, I hope my kid gets those traits. But man yeah, those terrible twos are going to be a doozy. Good luck with that Amy


You have just described my 2-year-old daughter to a T!! She is just a couple months younger than Ike and does everything you just described. I could not have said it better and my all encompassing description of "high maintenance" didn't really describe that while on top of being the definition of terrible two, she is also oh, so sweet and loving. I always enjoy your Ike posts!


Ah yes, I have the almost 3 year old female edition of your son. Yesterday was Take a Favourite Toy to Daycare day. It was met with a resounding NO before I'd even finished speaking. We immediatly instituted Whatever you do, DO NOT TAKE A TOY TO DAYCARE TODAY day and off she trotted, stuffie under arm.

Liz Tea Bee

This is the best description I've read of a kids relationship with boundaries and their need for boundaries I've read in a very long time. Possibly ever.

Also your bit at the end about him feeling safe made me tear up because I am pregnant and that's how my hormones and me roll right now.


That child is so g*ddamn cute. Nom nom.


He says no now? Even if you ask him if he wants to brush his teeth? That video of him saying, "Yesthch!" is one of the cutest things I've ever seen. Except for "Appy Day Day." And... heck, His Inherent Ikeness is just the epitome of cool. And cute.


Thank you again for putting into words things I've felt but not known how to articulate nearly as well as you. I think we are all reading your post though the lens of our own kids and seeing them in a new light. Plus that kid is crazy cute! You lucky girl.


I love that name. Ike sounds like my youngest, who's now 5 (weep, sob). So, so charming. And Ike is so freaking adorable! Enjoy.

Lynda M Otvos

You are paving my way thru the future with the little guy I nanny. He's one at the end of this month and already throwing himself at the fence. I so hope I can adopt the Zen-master attitude of HII's teacher as we navigate the shoals of toddler hood. He began walking this weekend and I'm scared.

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