I got my first taste of “I’m not happy that you are telling me NO” from my toddler yesterday. I’ve said “NO!” to other toddlers before – friends’ kids, church people’s kids, strangers’ kids in the grocery store (I’m a teacher, I get paid to discipline other people’s kids, I can’t help it) and their reactions haven’t phased me a bit. But all of those other kids weren’t my own. With them, I could care less if they cried because I was pretty pissed they pulled my hair, or stomped on my foot, or bit somebody. But I have found it is a totally different experience when it comes to your own child. I’ve been worried about how I would react to this very occasion.
I’ve been telling him “NO!” since he has been rolling around the floor to get places and at things. When he tries to grope the fireplace (lit or unlit), pull the plugs, play with my laptop, eat dog food, kiss the dog and then proceed to enjoy the dog licking the inside of his mouth, and other dangerous and disgusting acts. Mostly he turns, gives me a grin, and continues with the act or does it again until I remove him from the situation.
When he turned 1 a month ago, I noticed the screech and angry face when I took something away or he didn’t get his way. Who knew babies could create a pitch that busts eardrums? But still, there wasn’t really a reaction to me saying “NO!” to stop him from doing something.
Yesterday, I GOT ONE! Luckily my husband was there to witness. We’re playing in his new room with the blocks and he starts grinding his teeth. UGH! I hate that noise (because it’s like nails on a chalkboard and my husband does it while he sleeps which is one of the many causes of my sleep deprivation). So I tell him “NO! Don’t do that.” (Not because I hate that noise but because it can’t be good for his teeth… right?) He looks at me, grins, and continues grinding away. I look at him again, raise my voice a bit, and say, “NO! Stop that!” He looks right at me and I get the scrunchy screamy face. It’s like a cry and a scream all in one with a bright red face and he’s bearing his teeth. Wow! What do I do? Turn away and start laughing! I was laughing!
When other people’s kids do that to me, it annoys me. When my kid does it to me – I find it hilarious! This is going to be a long road. But I will always have to remember my friend saying, “The road of parenting has 2 paths – the path of least resistance and the path that builds character.” Guess which one is the hardest, but starts out knee-slappingly funny? I wonder if I’ll turn and laugh when I confiscate a bag of dried plant matter (wink wink) and ground him for a year? Probably not.