We’ve noticed a change in Kiddo the past week or two. He’s gotten more assertive about letting us know what he wants to do–and especially what he wants us to do.
For as long as he’s been able to say “No” (and boy, that feels like forever) Kiddo has had no qualms about telling us that he doesn’t want us to do something, whether it’s checking email on our cell phones or attempting to get him dressed. But he generally didn’t take the initiative to tell us what he actually did want to do. Recently, though, he’s figured out that he can show us through actions what he’s got in mind.
In the morning, when either I or my husband is trying to sleep in, Kiddo will come up and grab an arm, trying to pull us out of bed. If I’m at the kitchen table and he throws his new orange ball over the baby gate and down the stairs, he’ll lead me by the hand to where the problem is. He doesn’t wait for us to serve him anymore at mealtimes, if he can help it. If there’s food he wants and it’s within reach, he’ll simply help himself.
This is exciting to me because it tells me that he’s learned he can influence other people’s actions. He’s long past the stage where he figured out that Mom and Dad are separate people who sometimes have different opinions than he does (for example, whether he should go to bed or not). He has frequently demonstrated that he knows he’s allowed to express his opinion. But suddenly it seems like he’s realized that he doesn’t have to wait for other people to make a decision–that he himself can decide what we should do next.
Obviously, as parents we’re going to overrule him at times, but right now I’m getting such a kick out of seeing how he asserts himself. He’s so confident in his belief that of course Mom or Dad will do what he wants, if he can just show them what it is he wants to do.
My favorite example of this so far happened a few days ago. We’ve got a regular group that gets together weekly to watch the latest episode of Survivor. We’d all taken our shoes off when we arrived at the hosts’ house, and piled them just inside the front door before heading to the viewing area at the back of the house. About 15 minutes before the end of the show, Kiddo plopped down in my lap and handed me his shoes. I put them on him–after all, sometimes he just likes having shoes on. He disappeared, then reappeared a few minutes later carrying my husband’s shoes. Next he ferried mine over as well. “Mom shoes!” he announced. When he dragged our coats down the hall to us, we finally realized what he’d been trying to tell us: it was time to go home. Never mind that we were literally about to find out who was getting voted off! When a not-quite-two-year-old has his mind made up, there’s no such thing as a rational appeal.
On our way to the car, we realized something else as well. Every weekday morning, as we get ready to head off to work and daycare, putting on coats and shoes is the first step to heading out the door. That night, when Kiddo decided it was time to go, he didn’t whine or throw a tantrum. He simply repeated the routine he knew from home and expected it would have the same result. From his point of view, his actions were totally logical. They may not be rational quite yet, but in their own way, toddlers actually can make sense.