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Marisa Mackle: How cake can cure the terrible twos

I was bitten on my thigh the other day. It really hurt. Baby Gary even left teeth marks. He is now two and it's all true about what people say about the terrible twos.

Where do I begin? My only child's favourite word is 'no!' He just can't say it enough. No matter what I ask, the answer is 'no'. Ever since he was born I've been looking forward to having cute little conversations with him. Hmm. Be careful what you wish for!

He won't eat either. Unless he's ravenous, he will either throw his food at the wall or mash it into his hair. He shook his bottle of milk so hard the other day that it exploded over our nice, new living-room carpet. And that's not all. He has dismantled a CD player, fax machine and a mobile phone in a matter of weeks, and when he fights he plays dirty. I ended up with a black eye the other day when he head-butted me for no reason.

The other night, when I was half-asleep, my toe hit something hard in the bed. I yelled in fright and turned on the light. A rolling-pin was under the duvet. Yes, a rolling pin and weighing scales!

I find all kinds of things now in places they're not supposed to be. I discovered my favourite new lipstick down the loo, a set of house keys in the bath and Gary's wellies in the washing machine. I've found Bob the Builder in the microwave and Peppa Pig in the oven. Gary has tried to murder all of his toys one by one.

The naughty step doesn't work. Well, not for me anyway. I know other parents sing the praises of the naughty step and it certainly seems to work for Supernanny. But my son finds the naughty step great fun. He sits there and hums away to himself. He thinks it's his special place and he's very happy there.

The only punishment that works is when I firmly say, "No cake". He doesn't like that at all. Gary adores cake and when he's good he gets a piece and when he's bold he's told "No cake".

Of course, my two-year-old terror does have a softer side too. He tries to help me sometimes by putting on his coat himself, fetching his own nappy out of the packet, and tidying away his belongings before going to bed. He'll occasionally rest his head on my lap, or else he'll hug me and say "Mama", which is music to my ears.

He has me wrapped around his little finger and he knows it. On the one occasion when I lost my temper and shouted at him he threw his head back and roared with laughter. I suddenly forgot why I was angry.

What I've learned is that there are no hard and fast rules for raising children as they are all different. I remember as a kid, my neighbour's mum always used to threaten him with "wait until your dad comes home". I used to wonder why she always said that. Surely it should have been a good thing to look forward to your father coming home? I remember another child on our road being constantly locked in her room. She became extremely disruptive and as a teen gave her parents plenty of grief.

I don't know how long the "No cake" line will work. I doubt I can keep that up right through his teens when he wants to go to discos and stay out late. But, for now, it's a million times more effective than time out on a step.