A year ago, our three-year old son Max was just beginning to articulate his thoughts. As my husband and I sat anxiously awaiting on him to complete sentences and answer questions in both English and Serbian, my parents cautioned that Max would soon enough not only carry out conversations but also assert his opinion, solicited or otherwise. I actually thought my dad was trying to make light of my parenting stress, but a few weeks ago, just as he predicted, I got my first rebuttal. It was perfectly termed in English but not exactly music to my ears.
As I served Max a routine fixing of seasoned diced chicken, tomatoes and feta cheese in his
Skip Hop Zoo divided plate, he coyly looked up at me, shrugged his shoulders and said, "No, I don't want it." Admittedly, I was instinctively impressed with Max's confidence to refuse the meal but I quickly became worried that after my 10 hour work day and hour commute, Mean Mommy was going to make an unscheduled appearance during our dinner routine. However, before I even made it back to the kitchen to get my bearings, Max was charmingly requesting nibbles from Daddy's feta and pepperoni toasted sandwich. "Sta je to? Sta je to, Tata? Hoću toastie. Yum, yum." Relieved that the child was at least eating, I let the scene play out.
After Max finally finished his bite, jump and roll around mealtime choreography, I led him to the bath. Entering the bathroom like a great explorer on Newfoundland land, he cautiously surveyed the water level and said, "No, I don't want to take a bath. I want to watch a video." As I tried to swoop him up with his towel and firmly explain that it was indeed time for his bath and that bedtime would follow, he managed to squirm out of my grip. Running to find Daddy in the living room, Max pointed back at me as he said, "Mama kaže, ne!"
Mommy said, no. I silently laughed to myself as I processed the translation and the wisdom of Max's new strategy to misbehave. To the surprise of Max, Daddy and Mommy, fatigue and frustration prompted my firm response "Da! Mama kaže, ne. Max ide da se kupa!" Max looked up bewildered and confused by my poorly organized Serbian, but in my favor proceeded back to the bathroom. I guess it's time for Mommy to step up her Serbian game.