Over the last few months, Molly has made frequent use of the classic toddler’s favorite word: “No!” This word is usually given sharply and as a reflex, often without thought on what she is resisting. She has literally said no to eating cookies, being offered a toy (especially by her sister, who wants to play), and going for a fun outing. Molly has never said the exact following phrase, but I had started imagine it as her motto: “No! I don’t wanna, and I ain’t gonna!” The teachers at school had also, in a kind way, remarked on Molly’s toddlerish affinity for the pure negative word.
I am happy to say that Molly has discovered a new word, one which is mature and says, “I can work with you. I may not like it, but let’s work this out.” Her new word is “Okaaaaaay”. This word is always said in the same slow, prolonged way. It has a calmly resigned sound to it, not irritated or upset. This word usually comes in response to a calm, brief discussion on why we are asking Molly to do (or more often, not do) something. More than any other single thing, the shift from the automatic “No!” to the thoughtful “Okaaaaaay” seems to illustrate Molly’s growing maturity.
Molly seems to have moved, at the moment, from rebelliousness to a constant state of distraction. It does get tiresome to ask Molly 6 different times to brush her teeth while she clambers up and down the foot stool yet again to grab something else for her little purse. But I will take that trade any day.
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