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Are the Terrible Twos for Real?

Updated on July 21, 2014

What are the Terrible Twos?

You've heard the term terrible twos, but what does it mean? The best way to describe it is that one day, you have an adorable baby who is the delight of your eyes and then suddenly, it's as if an alien body snatcher has taken over your child.

Is it really that bad? It depends on the child. My first two never really went through this stage. Now, you all know what they say about the third time being the charm?

Toddler image by kakisky at morgueFile.

Tantrums in Toddlers

So, why do toddlers act up like this? For starters, for the first time in their lives they no longer have to be content with just observing things.

By the time kids hit the age of two, most are walking, running and climbing, which means they now have the capability of exploring anywhere they want to go.

Unfortunately, toddlers don't yet understand what all is safe and unsafe, so if denied access to where they want to go or what they want to do, they often break down and throw a temper tantrum.

Now, no one wants to listen to what sounds like a screaming hyena for very long. However, caving into your child's demands will only reinforce the behavior.

This is a great time to start teaching repercussions for inappropriate behavior. Time outs are recommended, along with talking to your child about the incident that just took place.

This is not a one time fix the problem solution. This is an ongoing process that requires parents to be consistent.

Of course this doesn't guarantee that the next time you go to the store and your little darling grabs a toy and you say no, that he or she won't dramatically drop to the ground, screaming and crying while flinging all body parts around like someone who just stuck a wet finger in a light socket.

Toddler boy photo by sjs5769 at morgueFile.

Toddler Temper

Another reason toddlers display destructive behavior such as tantrums, hitting, etc. is out of frustration. A child at this age does not yet have the verbal skills to vocalize their thoughts or feelings. Instead, they act them out.

Although it can be tempting to raise your voice and yell, it is much better to stay calm and talk to your child in a calm voice. Then, you can go into the garage and hit the punching bag.

Child photo by ali110 at morgueFile.

Terrible Twos Behavior

When my third child hit the terrible twos, one thing he liked to do was help. Now, that may sound like a good thing, but there's the difference between good help and bad help. He liked to do the latter.

For example, one day he decided to help with cleaning. He opted to wash fish bowl. Unfortunately, it didn't occur to him to remove the fish first. Those poor fish never stood a chance.

Another time he decided it would be a good idea to clean the bathroom sink. He had seen me soak pots and pans, so he thought it best to soak the sink, first.

He put in a plug, turned the water on, walked out and closed the door. It wasn't until the third room started flooding that I discovered this. The good news? In time, carpeting does dry.

Pouting photo by anitapatteron at morgueFile.

Dealing with Toddlers

Children at this age love to explore and experiment. I know my third child did. He especially liked to explore when I had my back turned.

One time I turned away from him for less than a minute to check my baby in the stroller while visiting Yosemite. When I turned back, he was gone. I finally caught him as he was boarding a tour bus.

At that moment I realized why parents hooked their kids up to safety harnesses like little animals. I saw the light!

At this age he also developed a creative side. You would be amazed at the wonderful artwork a child can create with a poopy diaper. I still have the carpet stains.

The key thing to remember? Patience.

Little girl photo by juditu at morgueFile.

Toddler Throwing a Tantrum

Does this look familiar?

Beginning Preschool

Often toddlers will begin some kind of preschool program. I know how excited my child was on his first day of school.

The teacher and him really hit it off. I remember her telling me how much she enjoyed him, how advanced he was for his age and what a scientific mind he had due to all of his curiosity.

That honeymoon didn't last long.

One day I came to pick him up and she was having a complete meltdown due to him. Tears were literally streaming down her face as she claimed how much she loved him, but didn't know what to do with him. Needless to say, that was his last day at that preschool.

In other words, not all preschools work for all toddlers.

Preschool photo by phaewilk at morgueFile.

Surviving the Terrible Twos

The question on your mind right now might be if you will survive the terrible twos. The answer is with any luck, eventually! I know at age 13, my son will one day be free of those difficult years. Of course, you may pick up a few gray hairs along the way. Thank goodness for Nice & Easy!

Seriously, though. If you think the toddler years can be challenging, wait until you have teenagers!

Happy toddler photo by phaewilk at morgueFile.

Toddler Poll

Have you survived the terrible twos?

See results

Best Toddler Book

What to Expect The Toddler Years
What to Expect The Toddler Years

This is a wonderful book that covers everything about toddlers from tantrums, to potty, sleep issues and more. I found it to be so helpful when my kids were this age.

 

Best Toddler Books

These are on eBay.

Toddler Tip

As much as we try to watch our kids 24/7, there are times when we need a little break. It could be to do something as simple as go to the bathroom or make a quick phone call.

As toddlers can act up when they're bored, I found that if I put on a fun kids' video for a bit, my kids would be happy and I could get something done.

I love The Wiggles because the music is fun and it gets kids moving and dancing around.

Wiggles Hot Potato

Wiggles DVD

Hot Potatoes: The Best of the Wiggles
Hot Potatoes: The Best of the Wiggles

Filed with your favorite Wiggles tunes.

 

The Angelic Child

Hopefully, one day your terrible two child will go back to the angel he or she really is.

Angel image courtesy of WPClipart.

Child Safety Harness

If you have concerns about your toddler taking off on you, you might consider a child safety harness when you go out in public. I can't tell you how handy this came in for me.

Toddler Products

In case you need anything for your toddler today.

Please share your toddler stories.

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    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 3 years ago

      @asereht1970: Thanks.

    • asereht1970 profile image

      asereht1970 3 years ago

      Great lens.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 3 years ago

      @2envelopparadox: Thank you!

    • profile image

      2envelopparadox 3 years ago

      nice lens

    • darkflowers profile image

      Anja Toetenel 4 years ago from The Hague, the Netherlands

      I don't have children but I love them. Nice Lens Janis, I wasn't familiar with the term "the terrible 2", now I am :) Squidoo is like a school or so, I learn new things everyday. I love this place! By the way your sons "washing the fish bowl" action popped up a memorie about something similar I did at that age (I can still remember things from then!): I wanted to help my mother do some clotheswash and quess what: in my silly child mind I decided the bowl of my fish was the perfect place to put soap in and was my pants and t shirts, hahaha, yeah poor fish, they didn't survive it either ;-)

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      Lucky you! I wish mine had stopped then.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      @abakes98 lm: Oh that's a good one!

    • Vincent Fleming profile image

      Vincent Fleming 4 years ago from Indiana

      Heck yea they are real. They last until about 6 years old though :D

    • abakes98 lm profile image

      NobodyLoser 4 years ago

      The answer is yes.... the terrible twos exist. Where to hide is the question.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      @shellys-space: They have so much energy at that age.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      Sorry, too scary.... Maybe for Halloween?

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      My son was 2 when we adopted him. Oh my, we were so very tired, as he certainly was active, active and had a mind of his own.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      @Aunt-Mollie: I hope you're right! LOL

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      @lesliesinclair: I'm in the country, but it didn't escape my youngest son.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      @Michael Oksa: You were very lucky!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      @StillPlaysWithT: The threes can be quite challenging.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      @audrey07: I think your friends are right.

    • profile image

      Aunt-Mollie 4 years ago

      It's a hard job growing up, but kids do.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      It seemed like our children, who grew up in the country, bypassed this stage, maybe because they were so free to play outside in safety.

    • Michael Oksa profile image

      Michael Oksa 4 years ago

      Perhaps I was lucky, but my youngest never went through a stage like that.

    • StillPlaysWithT profile image

      StillPlaysWithT 4 years ago

      With our son it was the "terrible threes." He was actually pretty mellow when he was 2.

    • audrey07 profile image

      audrey07 4 years ago

      I didn't really have big problems with my son when he was two. There were the occasional tantrums but all kids go through that. Some of my friends complained that it is worse at 3 or even 4 years of age rather than 2 though.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      @Carashops: Lucky you.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      @kabbalah lm: I hear you!

    • DeborahDian profile image

      Deborah Carr 5 years ago from Orange County, California

      My daughters went through this when they were little ... and then I think they repeated it briefly when they became teenagers! At least with toddlers you can still pick them up when they are throwing a tantrum!

    • Carashops profile image

      Cara 4 years ago

      Thank goodness my two seemed to miss the terrible twos.

    • kabbalah lm profile image

      kabbalah lm 5 years ago

      I'm not sure what's worse, the terrible 2's or teenage years.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @DeborahDian: True. It's much harder with teens.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @VspaBotanicals: Good you survived it.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 5 years ago

      Both of my kids went through this, and I made it, thank goodness. But I wouldn't have changed one moment. Thanks for a wonderful lens.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank goodness only one of my kids went through this.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @SandraWilson LM: LOL. I know how you feel.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I can relate with this lens. Well, it's something most parents have to go through.

    • SandraWilson LM profile image

      SandraWilson LM 5 years ago

      My youngest granddaughter did the terrible twos. She's now doing the frightful fours. I will be so happy to be across the country when this brilliant, stubborn, willful, artistic, funny child is a teen.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @takkhisa: Glad you learned something new.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @Cari Kay 11: Glad you survived it and lived to tell about it.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 5 years ago

      I have enjoyed reading this lens, i knew new things here and thank you for sharing :)

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 5 years ago

      With my son, I think he had one day of the terrible twos. Of course, I chalked it up to the fact that I MUST be an awesome mother. Well, no, my daughter quickly had me reconsidering that idea. She started the terrible twos on the day she was born and they didn't abate until she was almost four...phew...I survived. Great page and blessed!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @Rangoon House: LOL. I find that as teens, boys are easier than girls.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @IncomeFromHomeT: Good advice.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @tfsherman lm: My kids always loved the library at that age. So much to see and explore.

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      I didn't have to ensure the terrible twos, but would like to know more about the terrible fourteen-and-a-halfs? Blessings.

    • IncomeFromHomeT profile image

      IncomeFromHomeT 5 years ago

      Oh, I remember those days! My son could be extremely willful and stubborn.And if you think the Terrible Twos are bad . . . Just remember, new moms-- if you can't control them when they're this size, what are you going to do when they're teenagers? A mom of six pointed this out to me when my son was just entering the terrible twos. It made me sit up and take notice, and Jeannie's boys were late teens and good kids.

    • tfsherman lm profile image

      tfsherman lm 5 years ago

      Bring those toddlers to my library! You'll get time out and they'll learn how they have to behave in public. I have seen children do a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at this age -- it is tough, but keep fighting that good fight!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Glad you like it.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @Tonto Murray: Thank you so much.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Pretty good lens.

    • Tonto Murray profile image

      Tonto Murray 5 years ago

      Great lens Janis. Lots of good info here. Blessings.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @IncorrectlyWired: Pouting is much better than a tantrum. You sound lucky.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @piedromolinero: Glad the phase didn't last too long.

    • IncorrectlyWired profile image

      IncorrectlyWired 5 years ago

      Pretty accurate. Mine! is a favorite. Also, I find that if I can guess what ours is saying, and tell him, 'I know you want to XXX, but no.' he'll usually just pout instead of a full-on tantrum.

    • piedromolinero profile image

      piedromolinero 5 years ago

      It was a funny read and I remember the terrible twos of my daughter. Well, it was actually a phase that luckily didn't last too long. A lot of consistency and patience helps overcome this time.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @Camden1: It certainly does.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @kristalulabelle: I can look back now and laugh.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @Phoenix2361: No, you don't.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @Alex Cortes: Yes it will!

    • Camden1 profile image

      Camden1 5 years ago

      A sense of humor helps to survive the toddler years!

    • kristalulabelle profile image

      Kristen 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      I loved reading the stories about child number 3! Although they made me laugh, I'm sure they were not funny at the time!

    • Phoenix2361 profile image

      Phoenix2361 5 years ago

      Hilarious. This lens brought back a lot of memories. My children are 21, 19 and 15 now but you never really forget those time. Never.

    • Alex Cortes profile image

      Alex Cortes 5 years ago

      I made it through the first time, although it was more of a terrible threes in our home. Now for child #2, who is already showing signs of the terrible twos (although she is only 18 months)... time to strap in and get ready; it's going to be a bumpy ride!

    • profile image

      NoSugarMom 5 years ago

      I hope to survive it if it comes!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @UKGhostwriter: LOL

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @Ajeet: Spoken like a dad who knows!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @mrsclaus411: It can drive you nuts!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Patience is an important key.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @LittleLindaPinda: You're very lucky.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @miaponzo: Oh no! Don't tell me that!

    • UKGhostwriter profile image

      UKGhostwriter 5 years ago

      My 18 year old is still going through the terrible twos

    • profile image

      Ajeet 5 years ago

      The terrible twos are certainly true :)

    • mrsclaus411 profile image

      mrsclaus411 5 years ago

      Good thing if it only stops when they're two. It's a tough job.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I've gone through the terrible 2s as well. All of this sounds soooo familiar. But it does get better, through patience and time.I didn't think it would happen, but it eventually got better. I actually just talked about this in my blog: loveandkids.wordpress.com

    • LittleLindaPinda profile image

      Little Linda Pinda 5 years ago from Florida

      It's been a very long time but luckily my kids didn't experience the terrible twos.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 5 years ago

      Terrible Two's????? How 'bout terrible 20's?????? Blessed!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @Lady Lorelei: Then they hit their teens. LOL

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      Yep the terrible twos really are exactly as they sound - terrible! Fortunately kids do grow out of this awful awkward phase of childhood and into much nicer little creatures ;)

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @canoz: Thank you.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @lftypjk900: Wish her luck for me.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @LouisaDembul: Oh that's funny.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @SimilarSam: It's a challenge.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @Jillynn: Oh yes! That's it!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @Richardryder: It can be.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @Mary Crowther: Oh yes. The throwing oneself on the ground temper tantrums. One of the worst things about the terrible twos, especially when out in public.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @Andy-Po: They will in time.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @kathysart: Thank you for the blessing!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @anonymous: I hope that passes soon.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @mary lighthouse15: Thanks for your comment.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @squidoopets: I know the feeling.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @SecondHandJoe LM: LOL

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @aesta1: Very true.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @wcjohnston: Giving me fun stuff to look forward to, huh? LOL

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @GetSillyProduct: So nice of you. Thanks you!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @jeremykim2011: Thank you.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @TheHealthCabin: Yes, they sure can.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @Elsie Hagley: You got off easy.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @seegreen: I had one go through a time in the early teen years. Ugh!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @KarenTBTEN: Too funny!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @normandes: Good luck.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @victoriuh: No, that's something you still have to look forward to.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image
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      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      @Krafick: LOL