Smiley was playing outside. Almost done with a cold, his nose still needs wiping a few times each day.
He often tests authority, which is normal for two-year-olds. In May I wrote about disciplining him as a toddler. He knows he gets reminders about rules if he is genuinely not focused. He knows disobeying is one way to get the personal attention and eye contact he enjoys. He would love it if he could always be uncooperative once, and then cooperate after I repeat myself or threaten to put a toy in time-out.
But he also knows that I try to be consistent about not giving him any chances if I am sure he is focused. In other words, he is not punished for being distracted or for taking a while to transition between activities, but actually being rebellious has consequences.
Me: Come here, please. Your nose needs wiping.It wasn't easy to keep a straight face. Should I start praying that he does not break too many hearts in the years to come?
Smiley: I go ride my bike.
Me: You can ride your bike after I wipe your nose. First the nose wiping.
He pauses, and decides to be defiant. He walks to his bike.
Me: I think your bike needs a time-out for making trouble. This is not a game.
He pauses for a longer time, thinking carefully. His eyes gain a mischievous gleam.
Smiley: It could be a game.
Me: Yes, it could. But it's not. Please come to me so I can wipe your nose.
He doesn't. The bike gets a short time-out.