Can your toddler out-smart you?

Guest post by Steph Tan

I’m fast realizing how utterly equipped Roo is to manipulate me. I was checking my emails earlier this week, when she busied herself with finding a cup. She found a cup riddled with ants and approached me saying “Mommy, wash cup.” I looked at her, pleased that she’s being smart about NOT using dirty cups. So I “advised” her to go get another cup, and leave the one she’s holding on the sink.

Of course, it’s not that simple. A two-year old little runt like her gets attached to things, and at this moment in time, no other cup will do, except the ant riddled one she was holding. So she said again, “No Mommy. Wash cup!”

At this point, I decided to repeat myself, then ignore her, to see if she would comply.

Instead, she stood beside me quietly for a few minutes. Just standing. Just holding her cup. Just stewing.

After a while, she looked up to me in all her big eyed, small nosed, cute lipped, adorable babyness, and whispered carefully, “Mommy…”

“Yes, baby?” I replied in worried whisper.

“…I miss you.”

Crack open. Yes, that was my heart. But the beautiful torture did not end.

“Mommy …”

I knelt down to look at her at eye level, wondering what was so terribly wrong.

“..I love you” she whispered in her tiny voice.

“I love you too baby!” I enthused, all happy and hugging her tightly.

Then she pushed me away, and passed me her cup.

“Ok Mommy.” she smiled with shining eyes, the way only children can. “Wash!”

Yep, that’s how the Mommy ended up washing the cup.

Roo rocking some seriously awesome bottoms.

Comments on Can your toddler out-smart you?

  1. Thanks for sharing. It is shocking to me how quickly children learn to manipulate. My daughter is two and a half, and she is the queen of stacking things beside me–books, puzzles, toys–as a “subtle” reminder that she wants to play.

  2. LOL, cute! While we haven’t had a “wash cup” like incident, my tot is very good at the stealth-like-ninja, gonna do what mommy said not to second her back is turned, thing. She’s not manipulative so much as imperious. She doesn’t ask, she demands and has been known to actually take my hand, lead me to what she wants and put my hand on it with a smile.

  3. Oh, yes…multiple times a week. My husband usually says, “We are in so much trouble.” Yes, it is shocking how quickly they learn.

  4. Good Story! My little guy (20 mo.) is just now getting enough vocabulary to start issuing demands, and he’s showing a real aptitude for bossiness! – This morning we had this exchange:
    Mama! Shoe On! On! Baby! [bringing me his shoes – I put them on him]
    Mama! Shoe On! On! Mama! [bringing me my shoes – I put them on]
    Out! Out! [banging on front door]
    Mama! Out! No! Out! [pushing me out of chair]
    Out! Out! [pointing out window]
    Mama! No! No! Ouuuuut! Mamaaaaaaa! [pushing me out of chair, wailing with frustration]

    Mind you, this was at 6:30 am,and I was still in PJs, hair unbrushed… not exactly ready to go out and play! And this is only the beginning… sigh.

  5. My niece is the QUEEN and reigning champ for getting what she wants. She’s daddy’s little doll, has him wrapped around her finger, and all three of her older brothers adore her. She does no wrong. It’s Mommy and Auntie she can’t get by with. And that’s when she pulls out the cute songs, the “I love you”, and then, eventually, the “You’re dumb!”

    She’ll learn… lol

  6. HA! We recently bought Alice a box of Dora band-aids, which I’ve been rationing, otherwise the entire box would be a goner in minutes. Every time I comply with her request for a new band-aid, just ONE, she asks for another to give to her cousin or her friend, neither of whom are present! It’s cute of her to try!

  7. I love watching toddlers outsmart their parents. At the coffee shop, an adorable tyke with her rather busy parents talked them into getting her a cookie she wanted to save and not eat in the following manner:
    Little Girl (in fairy wings)- “Daddy, can I have a cookie?”
    Dad- “No, honey, last time you got a cookie you didn’t eat it”
    LG- “But it’s pretty”
    D- “No”
    LG- “I could eat half of it daddy…”
    D- “OK. (to server) Please cut one of these cookies in half”
    LG- “NO! She will mess it up, I want to do it”
    D- “OK. (to server) One whole cookie, please. (to little girl) Here’s your cookie, cut it in half and pick the side you want to eat”
    LG- “No.”
    D- “But you said you would eat half the cookie”
    LG- “No, daddy, I said I *COULD* eat half the cookie, not that I *WOULD* eat half the cookie”
    D- “::mutter::”

    No joke, this child was *maybe* 4. Future president, in the making…

  8. Hey man, it’s better than whining. 😉

    Pre-schoolers can be very calculating. My 3.5 year old was throwing a tantrum in the car about going to McDonald’s (or Old MacDonald Had a Farm, which is what he calls it). I was doing my best to ignore him after saying “no” a couple of times. Finally, I had had it and I said, “I hear you. I’m ignoring you. The answer is no, and we will not discuss this anymore.” Magically, the crying stopped 30 seconds later. Of course, it isn’t always this easy….

  9. thanks offbeat mama, steph for sharing my simple story. love the responses from the other mommies/aunts, especially amused non-parent’s piece. =) grin

  10. Famous story of my nephew, now 8. When he was 2, his parents were visiting us for a huge outdoor event called Waterfire. No bathrooms or changing tables in sight, and he needed a changing. His parents were hoping to wait it out until they could get back to the car. Daniel starting crying, “Change me, change me, change me!” *Pause* “I love you!”

    He got even sneakier later. When he was five, he was more than a little obsessed with, er, boobs. I’ve got prominent ones. One Christmas we were playing, he was staring. He saw me catch him, looked flustered for a moment, and then pointed to my swallow necklace and said, “I like your bird.”

  11. My little guy is almost two, and whenever he is driving me nuts (as in hasn’t slept all night and I’m ready to knock my head against the wall) as soon as he can tell I’m starting to feel frustrated he starts with the kisses. He makes the little lip smacking sound and sometimes he’ll say “mwaaaaaaah!”. I just can’t be upset with him. He’s too cute.

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