Motherhood Moments: When 'No' Gets Meaning

Dealing with the dreaded

"Maya, NO!" I screamed at my daughter in my mother-in-law's backyard. I've never screamed her name before. The excessive volume in my voice actually wasn't truly necessary, but I had told her, "no" so many times that I was annoyed and hoped she would be responsive to my tone.

The happiest shriek of a laugh came out of her mouth as she continued running. She didn't even turn around.

Later, I held her in my arms and she played with my hair. "Can I have a kiss?" I asked. Her face scrunched,  her lips pursed, and she turned her head and said, "No!" Aside from the absolute cuteness of her reaction and an undeniable pang in my heart at being both verbally and physically denied a kiss from my baby, I realized how much she's grown. She's approaching that stage where "no" comes quickly and easily from her mouth, but it's practically a curse from hell when it comes from mine.

It's as if she added that two-letter word to her vocabulary overnight. Suddenly, my sweet little baby is saying "no" to everything: another bite, a boring toy, a command to, "come here" or, much more often, "get down." Each time, the furrowed brow and dramatic head shake simultaneously fills me with adoration and anger. My baby needs to learn who is boss, right? We can joke all day, but when it comes right down to it, I am mama! HEAR ME ROAR!

Then I think, well, she's one. She's learned a new word. She's ornery and goofy and strong-willed and one year old. Chill, mama. Chill. You don't need to teach her any lessons yet because she's only just now learning words. But now I have this punishment method dilemma. Do I spank her? Do I redirect? Do I withhold negative attention and risk letting her get hurt? How do I parent? What's happening?

Eventually, I resolve to follow my gut in each moment. But what I really need to know is how to survive her threenage and teenage years if, at one, she's already a threat. And again, I ask: How does anyone have more than one kid? How? Why? More importantly, how do I become a different type of person who doesn't question every aspect of life when my daughter learns the scariest and most powerful word of all time?

Am I overreacting? No. Probably not.


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