She’ll kick your ass and steal your sippy cup

by Janelle Hanchett

We already know this, but let’s say it again just for funsies: toddlers are lunatics.

Beyond pooping on themselves and attempting to grab it, waking up ready to party at 5am no matter what time you put them down the night before, and seeking out their own physical demise on a pretty much hourly basis, they have some seriously warped social behaviors.

For example, the grabbing stage.  Also known as the biting stage, whacking stage, or pinching stage.

I have a grabber.

Oh yeah. That Georgia. She’s a mean one these days.

A couple days ago we were at Little League practice (holy hell it’s started AGAIN), and there was this super sweet little girl around 13 months toddling around, kind of following Georgia, who was of course sprinting around the bleachers like a bat outta hell while yelling “apple” [which is odd, considering none of us had an apple].

So this little munchkin walks up to my 19-month-old (looking rather calm and innocuous I might add), Georgia’s looking at her like she fears she might knife her, or steal her imaginary apple (oh I don’t know I’M GUESSING).

And just as this little girl gets close, Georgia stares her down with the toddler death eyes and just gives it to her. BOOM! Grabs her little cheek like a little hellion.

My heart jumps. I immediately hold Georgia’s arm down, telling her “no” and “gentle.” She’s looking at me like “Whatevs, mom. That kid was all up in my business.” I tentatively release her arm and BOOM! She does it again. I move her. I apologize profusely.

So yeah. I have the evil grabber kid.

Usually mothers are pretty understanding, well, if they have a kid who’s been through this stage. The Little League mom was way cool – apparently her innocent-looking toddler assaulted some unsuspecting newborn at a recent playdate. Score. Real mothers. LOVE THEM.

But most of the first-time mothers whose kids haven’t reached this jewel of a phase look at me like I’m some sort of trash-dwelling creature with trash-dwelling creature offspring. I wonder if they think we all walk around the house grabbing each other’s faces when we’re mad.

You know, they’re still all smug and shit, basking in the infinite goodness and purity of their little bundle. Sure it’s never going to change.


Just wait, lady. Your little beam of sunshine will soon be gnawing the nose off her friend’s face.

And you’ll feel bad. Soooo bad. And you’ll get embarrassed. And you’ll look up quickly at the eyes of the mother, wondering what you’re gonna get: “Oh, no worries. My baby does that too!” — or that face. That furrowed brow and quick sweep picking up her baby and moving away – the face and body and gesture all saying “come on, honey, let’s get away from this obviously deranged toddler and her obviously subpar mother.”

When those women, those “If you were a better parent your kids wouldn’t be such assholes” women (I stole that from Sara, a commenter on this blog, because it so perfectly summarizes The Attitude. You know the one.) look at me with that face of disdain, I like to imagine the day when they get the call from the school informing them that their little Johnny bit Sally on her forehead during Circle Time.


Payback’s a bitch.

Cause now Johnny’s an ass-kicker too, and you better hope that other mama isn’t as smug as you were…or you’ll be getting The Face. Oh yeah, The FACE.

Then we come home and Georgia does THIS, and I feel it again: Freaking nutjub toddlers. All of ‘em.

Face-grabbing to monkey-towel grinning in 2 hours flat.

And I’ll take her as she is.





  • Kristi

    Oh that sweet face! It’s amazing how our sweet toddlers can get in so much trouble!

    When my first was 13 months old he was a MAJOR biter. He bit any kid who got close enough. I had one mom tell me if he bit her son she would bite mine. Then she called and said we couldn’t be friends anymore because she couldn’t subject her son to my son’s behavior because that would make her a bad mother! Really? So being a first time mom and horrified at my son’s behavior I asked the pediatrician about it. He asked “is he seeing any violence at home?”. WTF? Yes, my husband and I bite each other when we are mad. Needless to say I got a new doctor and new friends and my son eventually stopped biting and turned out just fine.

    So apparently some crazies might think that you go around grabbing each other’s face when you’re fighting! Good luck!

  • Carrera

    LOL…oh Toddlers. I once read somewhere that we are all at our most violent and destructive stage between the ages of 18-30 months. After working with children that age, I can say that it’s 100% true. And yet, we don’t all end up being serial killers. Good for us.

    I like to tell parents whose children either are grabbers, biters, hitters, etc. or the victims of said biters, grabbers, and hitters that I’m secretly running a Fight Club by day using their children to supplement my income/for my own fiendish amusement. The cool parents think I’m hilarious.

  • Sara

    I’M FAMOUS!!!!!

  • Jessica

    What a cutie in the monkey towel.

    I am sure of this, and not ashamed to admit it…I gave the “face” more than once. Don’t worry though, I learned my lesson soon enough. My first daughter was a screamer. Ever experienced that? Omygoodness. She would approach unsuspecting children as if she were going to hug them and then scream a very high pitched, banchee-like squeal 2 inches from the poor kids face. Now I just smile at the snobby mommies who haven’t experienced that “stage” yet because I know it is a comin’.

    • Jessica

      & my youngest girl, 19 months, slap-scratches when angry.

  • Millicent Pearl

    Thank you so much for this post! It’s had me in stitches! My darling 21 month old daughter has been ‘the evil grabber kid’ for the last couple of months and it leaves me feeling generally mortified. It feels like she does it all the time! Most parents are great, although I know what you mean by THE LOOK. One parent gave me the most evil stare the other day and whispered to her husband ‘look what she’s done’ about a grab my daughter gave her little one (which wasn’t even half of what she’s got!) It made me feel like the worst mother ever and all I kept thinking was ‘I wish I could be there when your little angel does this to another child one day, and make the same comment.’
    Anyway, all the parenting advice I read just makes me feel depressed as nothing seems to work, but your post made me laugh so much and it’s the best I’ve felt about the whole thing in weeks. Brilliantly light hearted – exactly as it should be! Thank you again!

  • Heather Guymon

    Ha! This post had me rolling and it’s only 6:25 a.m. here so my husband, startled by my outbursts, woke up all, “wha..what’s wrong? Who’s dying?!” and I’m all, “nobody you lazy asshole, go back to sleep.”

    So, my toddler, who happens to be getting tubes put in his ears in about an hour (I should probably get up and get dressed, instead of sitting here wanting to high five my computer, as if it’s your hand, and we are besties) has gone through this phase with his little brother. The entire first year of kid #3’s life has been spent being pushed and shoved into couches and floors by his own brother, then with me yelling at the shover and giving loves to the pushee, then repeating about five minutes later. The kid #3 is now 15 months old, and has caught on to this whole “older brother terror” act, so what’s he doing now? Oh, you know, walking up to his brother, whacking him on the head with a toy hammer, clawing his face as if he personally NEEDS the eyeballs as a keepsake and THEY MUST COME OUT SOMEHOW!!!!!

    Since he can basically handle his own shit now, I just let him, and instead of jumping up and having to be a referee every .25 seconds of my life, I basically just let them work it out amongst themselves.

    That’s good parenting right?

  • Celeste

    I literally read this thinking I needed to get therapy for my 20 month old. Down the slide, clapping and laughing. But the next kid in line better watch it because he’ll wait there and swipe your face off if you don’t RUN FOR THE HILLS. Two seconds later, he’ll blow you a kiss. Go figure. I’ve cried, yelled, time-out’ed, repeated the word gentle 75,000 times (that TOTALLY works, psssht!) and rolled my eyes. It doesn’t matter. He’s a face grabber. And he also might bite, since he barely has any teeth. Apparently that teething KILLS HIM INSIDE. So good to read this post. Will save money on family therapy.

  • Jenny

    I know this is a super old post, but I came across it during my hundredth google search for “toddler grabbing faces”, and THANK GOD I did. Thank you thank you thank you for making me feel not alone in this and for taking down “the look” givers. I’ve found myself wishing the most terrible of twos upon them and felt pretty guilty and petty for wishing it, but seriously, give me a damn break!