I always thought that parents who counted at their children as a form of warning were collectively a bunch of wieners. With Brianne, it was always enough to ask her for something, and occasionally use the Daddy Voice. Not so with Ant. He is a stink.

No, I take that back, he is not so much a stink as he is just tremendously independent, to the point where “let me help you with that” has become his version of “buckle down for a vicious belting”. The words send him into a hysterical panic, and as such, have become the preferred threat when we need him to do something and don’t have time for toddling around.

So we’re loading into the car, ten minutes late already for a dinner date with the in-laws, and Ant is too fascinated with the buckle behind his seat to sit down? “Hey, Buddy, let me help you get strapped in” BOOM, he is facing forward and clicking the buckles into place before I can even lean over to pick up the strap.

Pretend we are cleaning up our toys and he wants to keep pressing on Chuck’s bucket to hear him sing. “Hey, Buddy, do you need a hand putting your trucks away?” BOOM, the floor is cleared and he is getting out the vacuum.

Now lets say we’re at the playground and my two-year-old wants to try the monkey bars but can’t reach them, as they are about seven feet above his head. “Hey, Buddy, you need a hand reaching those?” BOOM he has grown tall enough to grasp the bars and developed the upper body strength to swing gracefully all afternoon.

The point is he likes doing things by himself. “SELF!” being his most used declaration thus far in his life. So what if we exploit this with a bit of first-year reverse-psychology? He gets what he wants and we get what we want. Unfortunately he has gotten wise to the fact that I really don’t want to help him with half of the things I offer/threaten, so he has started ignoring me when I do it. Thus, counting like an idiot. If I reach “three” he knows it is about to go down. He also knows he has until I reach “three” to comply. So we have two seconds of tense pretending-I-don’t-hear-you-counting-but-getting-into-battle-position before either I pick him up screaming or he does whatever trivial thing I started asking him to do ten minutes ago.