15 March 2010

I don't want to.

Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
This photo was actually posed on a fun day when I took my recently-turned three year old to the beach for a birthday photo shoot... Since that time, I've seen this expression a lot - as we have now entered into a new developmental state I not-so-fondly call, the "I-don't-want-to stage."

The I-don't-want-to stage is proceeded by the "I-do-it" stage, which needless to say, is sometimes frustrating, but not worth fighting over and mostly leaves one with a sense of pride over their little one's new-found independence.

Example: "Here, let mommie help you..." mother says sweetly to the eager child shoving his head through armhole of his shirt. "NO! I DO IT!" comes the angry reply and after about 800 times of this, a helpful parent eventually realizes that this isn't really a battle worth choosing as it just cannot be won.

And this my friends, is exactly why you see small children toddling around in grocery stores and other public places in too-small winter hats in summertime with super-hero capes, and monster-feet bedroom shoes or with Little Mermaid nightgowns, pink cowboy boots, and their underwear on backwards. Because the parent(s) lost the fight against "I-do-it."

Then, out of nowhere, while our guard is down, comes "I-don't-want-to" and we're slammed into the other end of the spectrum. The natural first response is, "Huh? What do you mean you don't want to [insert any verb here]?!"

For instance...
Parent: "Time to eat."
Child: "I don't want to."
Parent: "Okay, don't eat."
Child: "I don't want to."

In attempts to commiserate with friends with older small children who I thought surely would understand and feel my pain, I relay my observations of "I-do-it" and "I-don't-want-to" and am met with unexpected laughter as they respond, "And next comes the-whys!"

Which is exactly how the phrase, "because I said so!" was born.

"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them."

James Baldwin

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