Pata likes to do things for herself. She wants to brush her own teeth and comb her own hair and feed herself cookies that Mommy and Papá break into maddeningly tiny pieces for her, while taking giant bites for themselves.
Pata still doesn’t have many words but she just recently learned a magic one that allows her to assert her growing sense of independence.
“Can I have a kiss,” I ask her, “a little one?”
“Would you like to come with Mommy now?”
“Can I have my keys? We need to go inside now.”
Pata likes to say “no” but she doesn’t care much for hearing it.
She knows to wait until I’m distracted to start doing things I’ve already told her not to do. As soon as I notice, I call her name and say, “No no.”
She turns to look at me. “Ooooh,” she says every time, shaking her finger. Then she makes a little speech I can’t understand. She goes back to what she was doing, repeating to herself, “No no no no no. No no!”
Sometimes, perhaps to demonstrate that she feels she really is a big girl now, she doesn’t even wait for me to express my disapproval first. This morning as I was hanging the wash to dry, she pressed every button on the washing machine, telling herself, “no,” each time.
Though maybe that had more to do with courtesy than independence. Seeing that I was already busy doing something else, she thought she’d be considerate and save me some time and energy.