My Family

Toddler Defiance

Alex has been playing with Bill's old set of Lego-like toys (they're much bigger and not a choking hazard), and he really likes them – especially the little plastic Lego-like people that are part of the set. He likes to put them head-first in his mouth. And look right at me.

Because he knows I don't want him putting them in his mouth (for fear that he will fall and smash them further in or something.) So he looks at me. With this look that I expect to see on and off for the rest of his life (or mine), or at least through the teen years… It says "so whaddaya gonna do about it?" So I say – "Get that out of your mouth." And he does – and smiles and says "Hi" in his charming way. And then sticks the poor Lego-like person back in. So I hold out my hand. Okay – then give it to me. He puts it in his left hand, which happened to be farther away from me than his right, and we played a wild game of throwing stuffed animals at each other – he only threw right handed, for a change, and kept his left hand sort of behind him. And then, he popped the poor little Lego-like person back in his mouth. "Alex, if you don't get that out of your mouth I will take it away." Out it comes. And right back in. So I took the little wet Lego-like person away from him (Mean Mommy) and speed-walked into the kitchen to hide it until I could find out where Bill had put the rest of them. Alex followed slowly, crying his little thwarted heart out. He saw his cup of milk standing there in the kitchen and went for that. I offered him a section of grapefruit. He shook his head. (this is another "game" we invented) I offered it again, saying "No?" in mock surprise. He shook his head again, little teary face beginning to look less tragic. I popped the piece of grapefruit in my mouth with great ceremony and made a deleriously happy face and made his "MM-mm" sound, chewing with unnecessary but humorous (to an almost-17-month-old) gusto. And he laughed.

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