My daughter’s tantrums are ballets in miniature, frenetic little dances of temper and passionate refusal. Barely two years old, she lets her no’s choreograph our daily mother-daughter pas de deux: I proffer applesauce; Ella flings it onto the floor. I try to set her in the grocery-store cart; she arches her back and wriggles, fishlike. I draw the water for her bath; at the sound of the splashing, she hurls herself against the couch cushions. Such defenses seems to have slipped into her arsenal naturally, as the rightful inheritance of many generations of toddlers, and at this point in my parenting I amused to her outbursts, more or less.

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