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Isn’t it just horrible, awfully annoying, ridiculously frustrating, magical when your children reach the age where they start repeating words they’ve heard?  My little peanut will turn two years old at the end of April and for quite a while now, she’s been introducing a new word to her vocab almost daily as if she had a roll of “word of the day” toilet paper stashed next to her baby potty.  It’s really a lot of fun to listen as she negotiates her way through multi-syllable words like “foofsy” (Goofy) or “owshide” (outside).  Sometimes she’ll even tie three or four of them together to form a nonsensical sentence that requires multiple professionally trained translators to decode.  Thankfully, we have several on retainer so we’re actually able to have fairly coherent conversations with the munchkin.

Recently, a word that she mastered way back in her younger days has risen to the forefront of her vocabulary.  A one-syllable, two-letter word that is quickly becoming her own personal toddler anthem.  That’s right boys and girls, in today’s episode Izzy learns the word “No”.  We knew it was coming; everyone has heard of the “terrible twos” and all the baggage that comes with it.  I guess I just assumed that it wouldn’t start until she ACTUALLY TURNED TWO!  I mean seriously, whoever came up with this term really misled me.  It should be called the “terrible one and a half through threes” or maybe “toddler terror threat level midnight”.  The point is, Iz has decided not to wait for her birthday to become defiant.

It started off innocently enough with a “no” here or there when we tried to change her diaper or put on pajamas.  Not a big deal; we laughed it off, made a few silly faces to distract her, and got the job done.  Over the past several weeks however, things have taken a turn for the worse.  I present to you exhibit A below.  Cute right? 

"Cool Girl, Cool Girl, Co...GET THAT CAMERA OUT OF MY FACE!"

This photo was taken just after a meal (as you can see from the rather disgusting bib still draped around her neck), as we played a little game we like to call “cool girl”.  Iz likes to perform and from time to time we throw the shades on her and she puts on a little booty-shakin’ number for us.  What this picture does not show you is the mood change that was about to occur.  Moments after this image was captured, Iz turned all Linda Blair on us, snatching the glasses off her face, throwing them across the room and boldly yelling “NO!”  Perhaps we should have seen it coming; if you look closely at the picture, behind those sassy shades, she’s got the crazy eyes starting to show!

These little outbursts are starting to play out more often now so Jen and I have taken the “tough love” stance, though it’s a little shaky sometimes.  A couple of weeks ago, Iz was gracing us with her demon presence as we attempted “family dinner time”.  The Jakester had just finished using his face as a canvas, on which he painted carrots and rice cereal, and Izzy had not touched her food. 

“Izzy, will you please take a bite?”  I asked, as I slowly inched the spoon closer to her mouth.  With a swift “wax on, wax off” type arm maneuver, she knocked the spoon down with one hand and pushed her plate away with the other.  This judo move was followed up, once again, with the n-word.  We attempted to reprimand her, but as the tears welled up and desperately clung to her bottom eyelashes before streaming down her face, we folded like a deck of cards.  Minutes later we were sitting on the floor of our kitchen, bribing her with the promise of a fruit snack for each bite of her dinner.  A pathetic parenting scene if ever there was one.  A classic parenting 101 rookie mistake.

As the weeks have gone on though, I believe we have learned a few things about Izzy’s tantrums.  Of these lessons, one stands out as the most important in my opinion and that is learning to pick your battles.  You see, while the word “no” has just one syllable, I’ve noticed that our little monster tends to use two different inflections when saying it.  This is the key to determining which instances we will simply let go and which will result in a royal rumble and “time-out”.  I present to you exhibit B below.

"I want to say No, but I don't want to end up crying...how can we work this out Dad?"

Here, Izzy has refused to get out of the giant Rubbermaid container.  When I asked her to, she responded with her favorite word, but spoken almost as a question.  It was as if she was asking if it was ok to say “no”.  Now put yourself in her shoes for a moment.  A giant Rubbermaid container has been placed next to all of your favorite toys.  You love to play with Tupperware and you love to climb in boxes.  Now you are presented with the best of both of those things!  I can understand not wanting to get out.  More importantly though, no one is being hurt in this scenario and nothing is being broken.  This is a “let-it-go” situation.  Now, please see exhibit C below.

There's a storm a brewin'

Here, you will find another photo taken just before one of Iz’s multiple personalities came out.  She had been lying on the floor watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, or as I like to call it, Toddler Crack, and the Jakester wanted to join her.  For about 2.7 seconds, all was quiet on the western front…and then Hurricane Izzy blew into town.  She shoved Jake to the ground and in her much more staccato tone, exclaimed “No!”  This is an example of a battle that Mom and Dad are going to win.  Turning on the waterworks didn’t help her this time as she received a stern scolding and a couple of minutes in time-out. 

After the tears and hyperventilating subsided, she gave a little hug to little brother, said she was “showwy”, and took another hit of Mickey Mouse.  Her undefeated record had been broken and the wife and I felt we had accomplished something.  Izzy-57, Parents-1.