06/09/2011 15:10 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Toddler Tales: Just Say No!

Toddler Tales: Just say No! Baby D has mastered how to say 'No, I'm not wearing this hat...' without words

Baby Diana's vocabulary is still limited. Or more accurately, pretty much non-existent. Yet, even though she can't actually say it yet, she has learned how to express an important word through her actions: 'No.'

She signals 'No' by stamping her feet whenever I try to turn her around from whichever perilous place she's heading towards. She indicates 'No' every time she rips her hat off her head. And even with the absence of language, I'm pretty sure batting me away when I try to wipe her face or brush her teeth can only be translated as a huge, resounding, 'NO!'

One time I frantically searched the floor for an eyeshadow applicator I dropped, furiously checking the baby to see if she'd grabbed it. Baby D pretended not to have it, then power crawled at 50 miles per hour away from me the second I turned my head, before stuffing the foam applicator tip into her mouth (the smoky grey eyeshadow around her lips gave her away, as did the evidentiary plastic applicator half she continued to clutch for dear life).

That's beyond just saying 'No,' to me though, isn't it? More like: 'I've learned to outwit you, disregard you and feel no remorse about it.' Who does this kid think she is?Perhaps the most obvious rebellion of Diana's is how she responds to me when I say 'No' to her. In our baby sign class, I was taught to say the word 'No' while moving my palm firmly from left to right to signify, 'No' or 'Stop.' Every time I attempt this gesture, most commonly as Diana is wresting book after book from the open bookshelves we still haven't had a chance to sort out, her two possible reactions are telling.

She will either look at me, burst into sobs, then immediately resume her destructive behaviour, barely hindered by the tears streaming down her face. Alternatively, she will stop what she's doing, break into a massive grin, and start giggling.

Meanwhile, I am attempting to sternly repeat the word 'No' with the accompanying hand gesture while keeping a straight face (key to making the child understand what they're doing is wrong), but I am struggling since my baby is laughing at me. With a smile still plastered on her face, and her mother's cries utterly neglected, she will continue the bad behaviour. (The smiley, happy, version of rebellious D tends to come out more when Daddy is around. I often get the sobber).

Diana is already ignoring me. I can't believe it starts so young. Of course, as with everything baby-related, I am simultaneously enthralled and worried. Does this mean baby D will grow up to be the world's best litigator, never backing down from her argument? Or just that she'll be a really stroppy and difficult teen (I feel exhausted just thinking about it).

Maybe it's a relief she's saying 'No' so decisively. As Dorothy Parker pointed out with her quote about the woman who speaks 18 languages and can't say 'No' in any of them, being too accommodating isn't always such a good thing.