What does the word "no" mean to you? To my daughter, it means "no", "maybe", or "okay."

As I mentioned in my previous blog, Isabella is starting to exert her independence and see how much she can get away with. She is fascinated with the word "no", and I am fascinated with how she is perpetually performing mischievous little actions just to get us to say the two-letter word.

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During a recent trip to the aquarium, my daughter decided her best use of time was to color a drawing, rather than explore the exotic fishes. Isabella visited each exhibit, but the one that repeatedly drew her back in was the coloring station. Twenty bucks to scribble on a piece of paper. She had so much fun, I bought her a set of non-toxic toddler crayons so she could get in touch with her inner budding artist at home. She delighted in a little scribble, scribble, and then a big munch, munch. My daughter wanted to eat the crayons, which should be no surprise since children her age are at a stage of oral fixation. What was a surprise was that she was repeating the bad behavior just to get me to say "no." She would slowly bring the offending object (the aforementioned tasty non-toxic crayon) to her mouth with an anticipatory, daring demeanor. I would firmly tell her no, and then laugh, smile and give her all of the non-verbal cues that do not back up my reprimand. In fact, my behavior was telling her that she is entertaining me, and yes, Isabella, please eat another crayon!

Yesterday, I had prepared lunch for Isabella and since I found out that she can now feed herself, I gave my big girl her own bowl and spoon so she could dig in. All was going well until I pulled out my very own big girl spoon, one that was much bigger than hers. When she wants something, she says "get." Isabella points to my spoon, repeating "get." I repeatedly told her no, and tried to appeal to her logical side, explaining the spoon was too big for her and I didn't want her to get hurt. I am not sure if you are aware of this already, but apparently toddlers as small as she is don't have overly groomed logical sides to them just yet. Some do however, have fine-tuned manipulative skills as I was about to learn. After a few rounds of our little game "get," "no," "get," "no," Isabella decided to put her little foot down and pull out her piece de resistance manipulation tactic. She held out her bowl of food, positioned it to drop its contents on the floor, and before doing so, pointed to the spoon and demanded "GET!" I was both shocked at her adult-like negotiation skills and wildly amused. I hollered to my husband to come quick, as I knew I could not handle this particular discipline since I was laughing like a hyena. After a brief battle of the wills, I caved in and cried uncle - to my ONE-YEAR-OLD! I was curious and wanted to see what she would do if I gave her the spoon. The result? She put her bowl back down and did not toss it on the floor like she was threatening to do. Why? Because I met with her demands and gave her the ransom.

So what did "no" mean to Isabella in this case? It meant yes. To me, it meant that I have a little girl who is running the household, even though the last time I checked, my name was on the mortgage payment. What is the lesson for me this time? Consistency is key, and holding my ground is important to ensure that I get the upper hand in the next battle of the wills. The other lesson I learned is that if my daughter is smart enough to outsmart me at the tender age of one, than I am in big trouble.

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