“I Not Listening”

It’s a good thing she is cute because sometimes two really IS terrible.

“I not listening!” Oh yes. That’s what she told me tonight as she climbed back down the stairs after I told her it was bed-time.

As though it was a joke.

She had been testing me all night, and this was the icing on the cake. Wordlessly, I scooped her up — over-tired and thrashing her chubby hands and legs — and got her ready for bed … sans story. Oh yes, I went there. I kissed her and tucked her in, turned off the light and walked out.

I try not to let her belligerence (read as: testing-her-mama’s-patience-out) bother me … but it totally does. It makes me feel like a failure of a parent … especially because she was so good for the first 22 months or so! And I’ve noticed (to no surprise of anyone’s, I’m sure) that when I do react, she gets more obstinate. It’s like she knows she is playing me; she’s smarter than I am in that moment and can outwit me.

I know, I know … all you veteran parents probably are rolling your eyes — either remembering this stage or thinking I’m going about this parenting business all wrong … and all of you without kids might be passing judgment, too. Go ahead … I know I judged parents before I was one myself. Because it’s so easy to do. You think you’ll do it one way, but then reality sets in and you realize you’re not only raising another human being — but shaping someone who has opinions of his/her own. Who wants to test limits. Push boundaries. See how many buttons can be pressed in one meal.

I learned that lesson the moment I became a mom. All judgment is withheld to a corner in my brain. OK, I lie. All judgment is reserved for sharing withΒ  Luis, my mom, and my best girlfriends. πŸ˜‰

But in all seriousness, the further along I am on this journey, the more I see that parenthood is akin to walking a puppy. The puppy is on your “leash” but will try to guide you in every direction … except where you want them to go (think nap, bed time, leave the park, eat a meal). He’ll pull and dart out when he sees a bird. He’ll stop to sniff every.kernel.of.popcorn.left.on.the.sidewalk. But in the end, as the dog’s owner (read as: kid’s parent) you do have more control than you think and can rein him in. It’s your job to guide the puppy … not the other way around.

What I’m finding to be tricky is that — while I do lead her most of the time — sometimes I feel like I’m in that reverse situation where she has me on a leash … and that’s not OK. This “bossy” stage she’s in right now is one of self-expression is actually good for her, developmentally. While I don’t love when she tells me not to brush her hair, I do like when she asks Rocco to “You come shopping with me” — it’s cute. Harmless. [And, yes, like a fool, Rocco follows ;)]

But I don’t want her to think it’s OK to tell me “NO” (even if it’s “NO THANK YOU”) because she doesn’t want to oblige with something I am asking … to the point where she is taking advantage of me.

I’m no expert, but two things that have worked for stubborn times like that have been 1) offering a realistic incentive of sorts and 2) explaining ‘what’s next.’

Exhibit A: Offering an incentive to listen to Mommy
“If you put on your socks and shoes like a big girl, then we can play outside.”
This seems to work because we both get what we want. I don’t want a fight about getting ready and she doesn’t want to stay indoors. So the win-win solution is, instead of telling me “NO!” … she puts on her socks and shoes and we all go outside.

Exhibit B: Explaining what’s Next
“After we go to Sam’s Club and Target, then we will go to the park.”
This seems to work because kids like knowing what’s coming next. While she might not be thrilled about the errands, knowing the park is on the other side might be incentive enough to behave. *Might* being the operative word πŸ˜‰

Of course, there is no right or wrong … just what works for you. And I am definitely curious to hear what other parents did/do to curb their toddlers’ stubbornness/belligerence.

Above all, I don’t want to raise a spoiled brat who gets her way all the time. The trick is how to balance her own independence with realistic, age-appropriate expectations … while still making her feel loved and adored (as she very much is!).

How about you? What are some of your best tips for the Terrible Twos? Or did you just ride it out, recognizing it’s a phase?

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3 thoughts on ““I Not Listening”

  1. Ohhh yes. All of this. There have been times I have had to fight the urge to literally throw Nate back into his bed. He wasn’t bad for most of two, but around 32 or so months, gearing up for three, he got more defiant. We laugh about it a lot but sometimes it just hits the wrong day or adds up. We use time outs as times to cool down. I may have threatened in the past that he’ll have to sleep in time out if he didn’t start being nice. LOL I agree that choices are important (supporting independence) and explaining why and what’s next can really work. I LOVE more than anything that I can reason with him a little now.

    And I could not love this more: “OK, I lie. All judgment is reserved for sharing with Luis, my mom, and my best girlfriends.” SO TRUE. LOL I text all my judgment to my sister (who, it should be noted, parents differently than I do in many ways but it all still meshes nicely).

    1. YES-defiant! Sooo age-appropriate, and so infuriating, too, as a parent! “Breaks” work sometimes … but I dunno, she’s just been a little pistol lately and this new-found sassiness (confidence) is tough to swallow although I should say, her teacher told me she DID tell a kid at school not to take her toy yesterday (instead of just letting him do it and crying about it, which was her usual M.O) so that made me happy that she was standing up for herself finally. She’s one of the littlest in the class (not the youngest, just one of the smallest) and some of the kids refer to her as a “baby” as a result — so in that sense, I was glad she used her words (God I hate that expression!) and took charge. Of course, that’s a lot different than just being two and saying No for the hell of it πŸ˜‰

      LOL … glad it’s not just me πŸ˜‰

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