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Just A Girl Who CAN Say "No"

Hey, guess what Cora’s newest word

Yep. Life officially got harder around here.

A few nights ago, Cora was sitting on the couch holding a book. My
mom walked in and started to reach for her, saying, “Cora, do
you want to go sit down and eat dinner now?”

Cora looked at my mom, leaned back cozily on the couch, opened the
book, shook her head, and smiled, “Naah.”

I stopped in my evening meal preparations and stuck my head around
the corner. “What did she just say?”

Ever since then, Cora’s put her new
word to most excellent use. She’s absolutely delighted
she’s finally got it under her belt, and acts as if she
can’t believe she’d wasted so much of her life up to
this point without this wondrous word. The sight of a
fifteen-month-old saying a definitive “no” to a request
to get in the car is funny enough, but Cora actually prefers using
“nah” instead. “Cora, come here please!”
“Nah.” “Cora, take that out of your mouth.”
“Nah, nah.” “Cora, get off the stairs!”
“Nah!” It’s as if she considers your request
politely, then casually decides against it. Nope, no, don’t
think so, Ma.

Of course, the magic word’s arrival always seems to coincide
with another unwelcome guest – the temper tantrums. Maddie
seemed to move into the terrible twos early, and I think Cora will
be no exception. I understand that a large amount of temper
tantrums come from frustration – a toddler’s inability
to communicate, to make him understood. And if that’s true,
then we shouldn’t see many of those since Cora’s
shockingly good at communicating. She can make you understand the
verbal difference between “blueberry” and
“banana”, whether she wants water or milk, and so on.
Her verbal communication’s enough that she gets by very well.
“Do you want milk?” “Nah.”
“Water?” “Ess, plis.”

Which means that Cora’s tantrums aren’t based on an
inability to communicate; they stem from a thwarted will. Pick her
up in the library before she’s finished dismantling her
chosen shelf, and she’ll say, “Books, plis! Down! Down!
Books! Books! Nah, nah, noooooooo!”

My favorite is seeing her absolutely crumble under the weight of
disappointment too heavy to allow her to remain on her feet. (I
know, I’m a heartless mommy, but it really is cute.)
Let’s say, for example, that Maddie goes upstairs to play
– she’s allowed on a separate floor unsupervised
– and Cora has to remain downstairs with me while I do
chores. Cora will run to the gate at the foot of the stairs as
Maddie shuts it gently (and, if I’m being completely honest
here, with a modicum of smug, smarmy glee) and stand on the other
side, rattling it, as Maddie climbs momentously up the stairs. When
Madeleine turns the corner and disappears from view and it’s
obvious Cora will not be allowed upstairs to join her, Cora wails,
“No, no, no, no,” sinking into a squat and rocking back
and forth slightly on her feet, bottom grazing the ground. Crushed
by a fate too cruel to allow her to keep her head upright, Cora
squats in the fetal position moaning the equivalent of “Say
it ain’t so!” over and over again, all but heaping
ashes on her head in mourning.

Add a downpour of Hollywood rain and overdub Cora to be shouting
“Stella!” and you’ll get a picture of the depths
of despair here.

So while I do love the nuances she can squeeze from that one
two-letter word, I’m very much afraid that I’ll live to
regret the day “no” entered Cora’s vocabulary.
Time to brush up on my “That wasn’t a request, it was
an order, young lady” speech.


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