No. It’s Not Always Worth It.

The Small is 17 months old and I’ll be honest I’m finding this age kind of hard to manage.  Mostly, it’s aweomse. She has a wicked sense of humour, she is starting to say words, she loves nothing more than a good cuddle and she understands every word I say…even if she doesn’t always admit it. However, for a little pint-sized pudding, she is stubborn as hell when it comes to what she wants and doesn’t want to do. She’s discovered the power of ‘no’ which is an amazing thing but also a frustrating thing for all parties involved.

I ask her a lot of questions such as, “Billie, do you want some breakfast?” to which she indiscriminately and without hesitation replies, “No,” as she runs to her highchair and tries to climb in. This is a tactical error on my part. Firstly, she clearly does want breakfast, she’s just awesome at saying ‘no’ and she wants to show me how awesome she is by saying it as much as possible…which is pretty dang cute but it does make for some confusing moments. Secondly, why the hell am I asking the question in the first place? So, I’ve changed my approach to “Billie, it’s breakfast time,” “Billie, we’re going to the park,” and “Billie, it’s time to change your nappy.”

Questions are gone. This is working out much better for us.

‘No’ is basically the only word she has absolutely down. If you asked her, however, she would be adamant that she can say ‘swing’ but, as much as I love her, I can’t accept ‘bweeze’ as swing. The same goes for ‘bay’ instead of ‘ball’, ‘da-di’ instead of daffodil and ‘bet-huh’ as breakfast. The only word, other than no, that is pretty much sorted is ‘boobies’ which probably says more about me than her. She is getting there, but some words still need a bit of work.

If you don’t speak ‘Billie’ then really, all you have to go on is her liberal and consistent use of ‘no’. I haven’t read enough any research about speech development to know whether or not ‘no’ is pretty much the first word that most children learn and use effectively but if it isn’t, I’m starting to think that she may have got it from me.

You see, I’m pretty terrified of turning out a spoiled, bratty, Small and so it’s likely that I’ve been expecting way too much from her. After all, she’s only seventeen months and nothing she does is about being wilfully disobedient. She’s not old enough to be naughty…right?

But, I’ll admit, I can get frustrated when she wants to be in her high chair then out of her high chair and then in her high chair. I can get all hot and bothered inside when she suddenly refuses to eat something that she wolfed down the day before. She will scream and cry if I don’t agree to shut her in the dryer (yep, really) and, in my frustration, I will momentarily consider doing just that.

You see, while some words are starting to form, there’s no real communication between us. She is frustrated because she can’t explain what she wants and why she wants it, even though she’s really clear about it in her own head and I’m frustrated because I can’t explain to her why locking her in the dryer is generally frowned upon, or why she can’t play with all the brightly coloured bottles in the ‘Cupboard of Death’ under our sink. There are real face-off moments where she’s literally screaming bloody murder because she can’t stand on the windowsill, or flush her hand down the toilet and I’m sobbing on the inside because there’s absolutely no reasoning with her.

This, I’m sure is normal and another one of those phases that ‘shall pass’ and in the meantime, I’ve figured out a pretty awesome technique that works for both of us: each time she is screaming and I’m am about to throw her out of the window, I pick her up and give her a hug instead. Which is nice.

But then there are those times when her life isn’t in mortal danger. There are times when she simply wants to crawl up the stairs because conquering those square shaped mountains is just so frickin’ fun. Or perhaps she’s desperate to play in the garden because the sun is shining. There are times when I say ‘no’ to those things too and it’s usually because I’m busy cleaning the kitchen or making dinner or folding laundry. This can lead to another face-off and while I’ve always thought it’s important to teach her that she can’t have everything she wants when she wants it, I’m thinking I may be picking the wrong battles.

You see, cleaning the kitchen or doing the laundry can feel like the most important thing in the world to a momma at home. I’m pretty OCD and I struggle to exist if the house is in a state so it’s important to me to stay on top of it. But, SHOCKER, it’s not at all important to The Small. She couldn’t give a shit if last night’s dinner plates are still all over the counter. She couldn’t care less if the toilet is clean or the bin is emptied or the lasagna is ready. All she knows is that RIGHT NOW, in this moment, she wants to climb the stairs.

So, while I’ll often say, “No baby girl…we’re not climbing the stairs now. Momma needs to fold the laundry,” which will lead to tears and wails and desperate tugs on the stair gate, now I’m thinking I may have to change my approach to this too. Because, let’s be honest, why shouldn’t she want to climb the stairs? When I REALLY think about it, surely that is more important than doing the laundry. Is it really worth a ‘no’ from me at this stage when she’s too young to begin to comprehend that she isn’t the most important person in the world?

So, my Easter resolution is to think carefully before I throw out the ‘no’ word. I’m going to be 100% clear about why I’m saying no and go from there. If it’s a ‘no’ because what she wants to do could lead to her death, someone else’s death, serious injury to anyone or anything then that’s fine. If it’s a ‘no’ because I don’t want to do it, or I’m busy doing something else, or it doesn’t quite fit in with how I saw the day going then, maybe, just maybe, just saying no isn’t the right thing to do.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

2 thoughts on “No. It’s Not Always Worth It.

  1. Kathryn says:

    I still feel like this, and my daughter is almost 3 years old! I am too quick to say no, simply because I don’t want to do something or because I have other things to do…and I worry that I am damaging my daughter because of this. Thanks for the article, and do let us know how it goes…even if it’s just to keep the rest of us sane!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Eliza says:

    Wow, interesting and helpful perspective. My boy is about to turn one and his personality is unfolding rapidly, to the point that I get scared. You see, while he’s just short of twelve months he’s the size of most two year olds (he wears size 24mo) and he is STRONG. As in, he pushed the kitchen table across the room at ten months. Plus just in the last week he’s developed the habit of enthusiastically slapping the face of whichever person is holding him, all while cooing sweetly and obviously feeling affectionate. But he doesn’t know his own strength. He’ll send my glasses flying clear across the room, and if his (growing at werewolf-speed) fingernails aren’t trimmed on a weekly basis he’ll leave slashes across your face. Then there’s the fascination with throwing things. I mean really throwing. Bottles flying out of car windows, spaghetti exploding into the air, and iPhones getting repeatedly smashed on the ground. He doesn’t say “no” yet, but when he’s feeling indecisive (or rather, when he rapidly changes his mind) he is a force to be reckoned with. Never mind the Disneyland-worthy neon-colored bellsing and whistling playstructure he has in the living room, whenever I open the dishwasher he must—MUST—climb into it! He will hold on to the wiring cups and handles and I will be (comically) unable to pry him loose. Once the whole thing tilted forward and threw him tumbling on the tile floor. He was unperturbed, and right back at it. When I pull him away he wails and screams like I just broke his little heart in two. Then I’m faced with the decision: do I put my cleaning on hold and let him play in the dishwasher or do I do the famous “follow-through” and “teach him” that “no means no”? Truth is I can’t handle his heartbreak. So the house gets messier than I’d like, or the circles under my eyes get deeper, as I stay up late to clean after he (finally) goes to sleep. I don’t mind the mess or the sleep-deprivation, but I’ve been alarmed at realizing just how soon I’ll have to make those “Parenting Decisions”: let him play or let him scream. It always looked so easy and obvious watching other parents with their kids. It’s different when every sound of distress from your own baby sends primeval shivers down your spine… Happy to know you’re about five months ahead of me: keep us posted! ☺

    Liked by 1 person

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