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A sampling of prompts and requests that are currently met with a loud NOOOOO, a fleeing of the scene, or the exact opposite by my two year old:

Please don’t wake up Mama.
Please don’t throw things off the counter.
(If no bacon) Time for breakfast!
Please don’t throw your fork at your brother.
Please take your plate to the kitchen.
Please open your mouth so I can brush the teeth you missed.
Let’s get your diaper on.
Let’s get your clothes on.
Time to put shoes on.
Let me buckle you in.
Let me unbuckle you.
Please don’t run in the parking lot.
(Snack, park time, lunch, going home and nap all go smoothly. For this I’m grateful.)
Let’s get your brother at school.
Please don’t throw trains at your brother.
Time for dinner.
Please don’t stand on the table.
Please don’t throw your fork.
Please take your plate to the kitchen.
Bath time!
Please open your mouth so I can brush [all] the [f-ing] teeth you missed.
Let’s get your diaper on.
Let’s get your PJs on.
Let’s read a book.
Time to get in bed.
You need to stay in bed.
Time to go to sleep.

You wouldn’t think an otherwise totally sweet kid would have it in his heart to try to break his old man so consistently, so vigorously and so thoroughly. The end of these days with him leave me ragged. I don’t remember it being like this with his brother, now four. I remember him taking his terrible twos (and threes) out on his friends, not me. That was bothersome and exhausting in it’s own way, I suppose, but this new approach seems personal.

It takes everything I’ve got to remember that this the first flexing of the muscles that allow this person to figure out who he really is. He’s figured out he doesn’t have to do everything I say, and he’s also learned that if he doesn’t, I’ll do hilarious things like get upset and stop what I’m doing.

I have to remember to make it less fun for him, to make my reaction less dramatic. This is a lot easier at 8:30 in the morning than it is at 5:30 in the evening, but I left Easy Street a long time ago. Easy Street is for the bachelors, the lone wolves. They can shape their days just as they please. We marrieds, we family men, we answer calls outside of ourselves, and how we do it is the measure of the kind of man we are.

In the meanwhile, the kid gets to test the edges and I get to hold the edges strong. If we both do it right, nobody gets hurt.