She has learned the word, the power word of toddlers the world over. No. It was official that she moved from baby to toddler when she started walking and denying it grew more difficult when she was running a week later. But still, somehow it didn't seem like she was really a toddler. Until two days ago. The moment was innocent enough, we were home from the day's activities and I had gotten Evangeline Claire out of the van, set her down to toddle up to the house as I grabbed the diaper bag and reminded the big girls what they were supposed to be doing which was not hitting each other with their bags and actually going to the house as well. In the midst of that particular chaos, Evangeline discovered a light on the inside of the van near the step and sliding side door. Captivated she alternated covering and uncovering the light, squealing with delight in how the light reappeared each time. It was cute. I joined in the game after issuing one last warning to the children still in the van giving Evangeline and me a sweet shared moment. We were giggling, me at her obvious delight in the light's little trick, her that the light was still there every time she moved her hand. And then, because I'm 31 and not almost 16 months, I tired of this activity (who has the attention issues I wonder) and invited her to hold my hand and walk to the house, pointing out the flowers blooming along the way. Evangeline looked at me sweetly pointing to the light and then ignored me by returning to the game. Visions of blood sucking insects filling our van, again I tried to redirect her, this time taking her hand and gently leading her away from the open door of the van. Concern and confusion crossed her sweet features and she grunted, pulling away from me. I talked happily, crossing to the pink flowers to entice her leave what I considered the mundane light. It didn't work. So I came back to her and told her it was time to go in now, there were too many mosquitoes out and let's go find a book in the house while again taking her hand and moving to close the door as I gently but firmly tried to lead her toward the walkway. Right then, after a little grunt and a look of frustration she discovered her stubborn tone and said "no." It was so final sounding, she really meant it. Suppressing a laugh I responded with "I know you want to stay but let's go find a book inside the house" while again leading her by the hand away from the van so I could safely slide the side door closed. With her hand in mine but resisting with everything she had she stomped her little feet in rapid succession yelling "no! no! no! no! no!" before collapsing in a heap of tears at my feet. No and a temper tantrum. Definitely a toddler now.
The squall didn't last long, soon she was standing against me, her arms clutching my neck as I kissed her cheeks and dried her little face. Speaking brightly I showed her the cheerful flowers again and she babbled crossing to them with interest, tears forgotten, she squatted to check them out then moved on to cross the threshold repeating "boo" over and over again on her way to pick out a favorite book to read together. As she played just minutes later, far too busy to sit still for a book I sighed at this new place we are entering together, me letting go of the baby, her discovering and exerting her will and the shaping of both child and parents that is sure to be a part of all of our growing up.