Hoo boy, I know I’ll get in trouble for that title. I’m referring to the world of toddlers, where “No!” is the rote response to any question. Every day my wife comes home from work, Baby Harbat’s first word to her is “no”. It’s taken me a while to figure out that “no” really means “I am exerting what very little power I have.” I’ve seen this same behavior in some of my coworkers at previous jobs.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out why Baby Harbat can be so infuriating. I think it’s partially because she can talk and think enough to trick you into believing she’s a logical person. WRONG! She is completely self-centered, has zero patience, no sense of manners or limits, no volume control, and needs instant gratification. Again, like some adults I know. But her excuse is that she hasn’t learned these things yet.
Our lovely daughter has the magical power to transform into The Contrarian. Did you know there was an opposite action to hand-washing? She will find it. Think there’s no way she can make more mess with split pea soup? Have fun scrubbing it out of the computer keyboard. What’s the opposite of taking a bath? Ask The Contrarian! If you attempt to reason with her: “Let’s finish your dinner so you can take a bath” you will be countered with an irrefutable riposte: “Color? Play? Yeah!”
If you attempt to take charge and enforce an action, she will go floppy and throw herself on the floor with uncontrollable wailing. Imagine picking up a trash bag full of water—this is a toddler in Full Flop Mode. If you ask her to do something, she will run the other direction. If you reason with her with anything short of bribery, she’ll smell a double-cross and dig in her heels.
Having a toddler is being stuck in the ultimate Chinese finger handcuffs. If you try to struggle and force against it, you’ll make things worse. You have to push your fingers together to get out. In the same way, if you try to forcibly hold down a toddler’s flailing legs long enough to put on pants, the flailing will redouble. Instead, at the peak moment of frustration, you are supposed to sing a song, engage the child with a game, or start a giggle/tickle contest. Uh huh. I’m always up for those activities when steam is jetting from my collar.
How long until Baby Harbat learns that you can catch more flies with honey? Based on her current practice of running up and hitting me then following it up with a smile and saccharine-sweet “Hi Babbo!” I think she already gets it. Little rascal…