Tuesday, April 5, 2011


It seems like the word should be the name of a cologne, or a perfume, or a mixture of both. Defiance: the new smell for men and women who like to live defying everything, and for men and women who like to live defying defiance, even. From Calvin Klein. And from Other Famous People who Create Smells that are Encapsulated with One Word Nouns with Super-Strong Ties to Verbs.

But no.

I must defy that possibility of today's theme. Defiance, I am learning, is instead the name of the game when raising a toddler. Tyler is now just about 2 and 1/2 years old, and Defiance has emerged in all its glorious, confusing, hair-raising, skin-tingling, tear-producing manifestations.

And I will confess: I wasn't ready for it.

I was still patting myself on the back a bit for a semi-smooth switch to stay-at-home parenting and writing instead of making my way into the public school each day to work with my lovely seventh graders. I missed teaching--yes, deeply--but I was ecstatic to have such intense time with our son. To watch him laugh, smile, dig, point out uptrucks, point out colors, point out people, point out people's hair, and point our people's various, multi-colored shoes.

Enter Defiance.

Where our days once progressed with ease and the (only) occasional refusal to comply, they now progress with multiple battles proceeding in ever-more-embittered struggles for power. Where once the marvelous technique of distraction could be employed to swiftly overcome most any problem--Oh, you wanted to wear a diaper on your head? Hey, look at that dog walking down the sidewalk, let's go see it!--now Distraction has been bypassed for, yup, Definance.

Then: Oh, you want to eat lollipops for dinner? Hey, check out all this ketchup we can put on your Veggie Nuggets! Whoa, Dude! Ketchup everywhere, quick, eat the Veggie Nuggets before they drown in ketchup! [Problem solved]

Now: Oh, you want to wear the same Thomas the Tank Engine shirt that you have been wearing for two days straight and which is now covered in a mixture of dirt, various sauces, mucus, and pesto? Hey, check out this SUPER cool Bob the Builder shirt you can wear instead! No? Really, no? You sure you don't want to wear this BOB THE BUILDER SHIRT while I pick you up and swing you around while I sing the theme song for BOB THE BUILDER and then jump up and down pretending to be a kangaroo who is looking for lollipops in the MAGICAL FOREST?



Did you hear all the things I said?

And so, Defiance has entered the game. It was a late substitution, as I honestly thought we were going to skate through the toddler stage with our greatest difficulty being a few borken bananas here and there that we could not glue together.

But then the buzzer sounded, and the opposing team put in the sub from the end of the bench. He's a little guy, but the thing is that he's that kind of player who will dive for loose balls, smash his head into the bleachers to keep the basketball in bounds, and toss up a shot from half-court to send the game into overtime (and swish it.)

Defiance is a scrappy player.

And he lets nothing pass, no matter how small.

You want to take a bath?


You want to take a shower?


You want to take a bath and shower at THE SAME TIME? SO COOL! RIGHT?


All the parenting books I have been reading (and there are a lot of them out there) tell me this is completely normal. They say that every toddler has to pass through this stage where they want independence but they don't really want it, no, yes they do want it, no, actually, they don't. No, yes, they do. I mean they don't.

The books assure Jen and I that this stage will pass, and that the important thing is to remain calm, to be firm but loving, and to try not to make a big deal over small things--to let go of the battles that really aren't that important. The books tell us that not fighting your toddler over every little thing will help the stage pass more quickly, and things will begin, again, to resemble that peaceful euphoria for which I had been on my kness praising God.

So, My List of Things of Late That We Have Chosen to Not Fight:

1. Spaghetti sauce in the hair (What's the worst that could happen? It will come out in the bath, later, right?)
2. Spaghetti sauce in the nose (Hey, maybe it smells good)
3. Granola Bars (Cranola Bar! I want one Cranola Bar! Hey, there's some good protein and carbs in those things, right? So, logic goes to figure that TWO or THREE of those things will have twice as many good carbs and protein...right?)
4. Clothes (Okay, you want to wear pyjamas all day? Fine. On second thought, I'll join you.)

My List of Things That We Have Chosen to Fight For:

1. Sleep
2. Sleep
3. Sleep
4. Sleep

I now take a breath, dive into some more reading in Toddler Taming by Dr. Christopher Green, and I will continue to hope that memorizing 1 Corinthians 13 (the "Love" chapter) will help sustain a calm but firm stance amidst this new stage.

(And I'll also be hoping that Defiance soon becomes a cologne. Or perfume. Or a mixture of both.)