The Emphatic No

These days Eli is all about saying, “No!” I got ready to go to work this morning and, as usual, told Eli, “I’m off to work! Come give me a hug and a kiss!”

“No!” he shouted, and ran off laughing.

I know, I know. This is normal; he’s being independent; this is a phase that will pass. But I am still seized with unreasoning anger. Why must he assert his independence by saying “no” all the time? Have we not done as parenting books and the Internet demand and given him choices? Sometimes even meaningful choices? “Do you want to stay with mom or go to the store with dad?” “Would you like to read a book or play with your cars?” “Paper or plastic?”

It doesn’t matter. These coping strategies are as snowflakes on the hot stove eye of his burgeoning independence. No, he doesn’t want to eat dinner. No, he doesn’t want to stop hitting the wall with that wooden spoon. Even when it’s something he has previously asked to do, like watching Sesame Street, sometimes he still says no.

I have a new coping strategy. Every time he says no, I now stick my fingers in my ears and shout “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU.” I’ll let you know how well this works.