Bang bang bang. Block hits glass door. Smack smack smack. Hand pummels TV. Clank clap clank. Crayon carried by crawling child unwittingly doodles across the floor in black and green.

It’s been a morning of, um, corrections. The No-No Tour, you might call it.

Declan, it would appear, is testing boundaries. Eating the forbidden fruit, as evidenced below.

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It could be a huge coincidence that the things he has wanted to do today are things that damage nice living rooms and maim nice children. It could be a coincidence. But I don’t think it is.

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As far he knows, the electrical outlet is actually called a “no-no.” Because that’s what I tell him every time he moves his hand toward it and that’s what he parrots back to me every time he moves it another inch in that direction. He knows, but he just wants to make sure nothing has changed in the past two hours.

The lesson about not hitting the TV does not seem to have sunk in as well. He always looks puzzled when I tell him to stop beating the TV like a dirty rug. Actually, what I tell him is “no-no.” But what I want to tell him is: Do you really want Elmo to die? Let’s ask Mr. Noodle if he thinks it’s a good idea to bite the hand that entertains us. On second thought, let’s avoid asking at all costs. Mr. Noodle is about 47 cards short of a full deck.

And, by the way, why doesn’t Elmo just get a new drawer and shade? Can’t we all just pitch in $5 to Sesame Workshop so Elmo can have a more cooperative room?

Ok. Clearly a little too much Elmo’s World for me. Anyway…

The joys of banging one object into another are becoming apparent to Declan, and after about 12 different attempts to shatter glass (and eardrums) with a wooden block, and the “no-no’s” which followed, Declan decided to make noise with a different object: his head. He flopped down on the floor, laid his head down on the tile, and began lightly banging it against the floor, looking up at me every now and again with big, sad eyes as if to say: why did you make me do this?

I feel for him. I really do. There are a lot of rules to learn. To absorb the weight of all those “no-no’s” without letting them dull his enthusiasm or send him tailspinning into paralyzing self-doubt is an ability that most adults only wish they had.

In fact, the No-No Tour has been a little hard on this adult’s emotional state. Saying no is hard. Being the bad guy is hard. And the monotony of repeatedly correcting behavior is frustrating and breeds impatience. Am I taking it out on Elmo? Maybe.

Following the rules and laying down the law are not for the “instant gratification” crowd. But they are essentially the same lesson. For the former, I’m the teacher. For the latter, he is.

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