The other day, I took something away from my two-year old, and he said something that soundly like, "Bad mommy."
I said, "Jack, did you just say, 'bad mommy?'"
He thought quietly for a second and then responded matter-of-factly, "Nice. Nice mommy."
Although this incident was quite humorous to me because of how he back-pedaled, it illustrates how smart our kids really are--even from the youngest of ages. With my first, I cut him more slack when it came to obedience issues, since I never had a child before and rationalized that "he just didn't understand what I was asking." With my second, I cut a little less slack, because I realized he did indeed understand earlier than I estimated with my first. The third time around, I'm practically like a child development expert.
Jesting aside, parenting experience teaches us that they do get it. They understand far more than we might think, even when they can't talk yet. So the earlier we train our children to do what they're asked when they're asked, the easier it will be down the road. If a two-year old can figure out it was wrong to say "bad mommy," he understands what you're trying to get through when you teach him, train him, and discipline him.
This episode served as a little reminder to me of how much he really gets--that he knows right from wrong, even if he can't articulate it clearly.