In all fairness, I had been warned: avoid using the word "no" too often, friends said, or before long, your heretofore angelic toddler will be using it against you. And in my defense, I heeded the warning. I tried to use alternate phrases, such as "Please don't do that" or "Let's do this instead." But when your 15-month-old is once again reaching for the DVD that you have replaced on the shelf for the thirtieth time that day, or worse, for something dangerous like an electric socket, say, sometimes the only word that really gets the point across is a good, solid NO (the only word appropriate for your toddler's delicate ears, anyway).
Apparently I used the word too frequently despite my valiant efforts, because a few weeks ago my dear, sweet, loving child responded to my "no" with an equally forceful "DOH!" It was cute at first, I admit, especially since he couldn't pronounce the "n" and sounded like a very small, very angry Homer Simpson. But soon enough Jack was saying "NO" loud and clear every time he heard me utter the word, even in conversation with John or when I was using it rhetorically. I've since discovered that I say no a lot more than previously thought.
But I'm afraid "no" was just the beginning of what appears to be some sort of terror-inducing sneak-preview into the infamous Terrible Twos.
On Saturday Jack and I went to my friend's lovely Easter brunch while John ran his race (he placed 13th out of close to 350 runners, I should mention, shaving over an hour off his course PR - go John!). While Daddy hoofed his way through 50 miles of mud, Jack was busy entertaining a party of ten or so adults and half a dozen small children. I watched in horror as he brazenly plucked chunks of salsa off a stranger's plate, then climbed comfortably into Grandpa's lap like he owned the joint (this was some other child's grandpa). Jack gesticulated forcefully while expounding on topics the rest of us could only guess at. He stuck his eager little fingers into a deviled egg and a chicken salad sandwich before I could move them out of reach, and after he finished the numerous jam sandwiches, crackers, cheese squares, fruit chunks, and baked goods I fed him, he moved on to the plates of unwitting toddlers. The other guests remarked on Jack's wonderfully outgoing personality. I was mortified.
The next day, Jack discovered Buffy, the stuffed Cocker Spaniel I've had since I was six. She lives on my nightstand, which was a safe enough place for her until Jack began exploring our bedroom. I let him carry her around for a while, trying not to freak out when he dragged her across the living room by a crimped ear or shoved his sippy cup into her love-worn muzzle. As expected, Jack grew bored of Buffy and left her in a corner, so I picked her up to take her back to her rightful place on the nightstand. Jack immediately let out an ear-piercing shriek worthy of a bird of prey. How dare I take Buffy away from him! he seemed to be saying. I stared at him in stunned silence. He hadn't even been holding her!
Yesterday was the last straw. My friend had generously offered to host a play date and, excellent hostess that she is, had provided refreshments, including some tasty oatmeal raisin cookies. My other friend's 11-month-old daughter was nibbling delicately on one of the cookies, and Jack, being my offspring, decided he must have the cookie immediately. In an attempt to curb the behavior exhibited at the Easter party, I picked Jack up and moved him away, when out of nowhere he gnashed out like a baby Tasmanian Devil and bit my arm. I was shocked. Hey, I love a cookie as much as the next girl, but I can't recall ever resorting to physical violence for one. Most of the time Jack is the sweetest baby ever, hugging my legs or sneaking into my lap for an impromptu cuddle. But every now and then this forceful, demanding, precocious little boy shows up, and I'm starting to worry he's going to be an increasing presence in my life. Surely it's too early for the Terrible Twos! This is just a phase, right?
|It's all fun and games until someone tries to take the cracker.|
For now, we're working on the word "please" (pronounced "bees" if you're Jack) and I'm trying to ignore the screaming. Of course, all of this is well and good if I'm in the privacy of my own home, but I fear that in public Jack is going to continue to get his way. 'Tis a far better thing to let your child have a cookie than let him bite you on the arm in front of your friends, no?
I mean "yes!"