July 15, 2008

I No, You Know

14 month Boddeler, originally uploaded by hal(var).

In the continuing saga of the preverbal boddler, we've hit the no phase. No matter what the question we ask him, his answer is no. But here's the tricky part, he says no, but he doesn't yet grasp the concept of no. He's just saying no to say no. Imagine most of our conversations going thusly:

Parental Unit 1: Bertram do you want a cracker? (dutifully taking the opportunity to make the ASL sign for cracker.)
Bertram: No. (he takes a cracker.)
Parental Unit 1: Do you want milk? (and makes the sign for milk.)
Bertram: No.
Parental Unit 1: Do you want to play?
Bertram: No. (he starts picking up blocks.)

I immediately began to question how often we must say no to him. This is the very thing Positive Discipline warns parents to avoid. Of course, that tome is still on my mind with its "Emphasize what the baby can do, not what he can't do" approach. The reality is that when he does something like squeeze a stack of banana slices in his little fist so that rivulets of banana stream out between his fingers, which he then promptly wipes on the kitchen wall OR when he discovers how cool it is to use his little plastic bath bucket to hoist water out of the tub and on to the bathroom floor, the first word out of my mouth is a primal, if not slightly guttural nooooooooo. Of course, he could have picked up the word no anywhere -- he certainly hangs around his fair share of toddlers, at the sitter's, at the park. Oh, who am I kidding? He probably picked it up from us.

Still, I've tried to make a conscious effort to reduce my own use of the word. Not an easy task given that Aunt Flow is mere days away, and I feel like at any moment I could erupt into what Ayun Halliday calls "bitchmother." (The link to the illustration is so much better than any description I could offer.)

The no phase does have some perks. Hal (aka Parental Unit 2) and I can't resist these types of exchanges:

Parental Unit 1: What's your favorite Japanese theatre?
Bertram: No.
Parental Unit 2: Do you want to go out and party all night?
Bertram: No.

This no phase also makes me think about an artist friend in college who went through a yes! phase. Yes. Exclamation point. She shared a house, and her half was decorated with illustrations of the word yes in various formations and colors. You would be in her bathroom, and all along the mirror were index cards with a single Yes! scribbled hastily in ink. Maybe her yes! phase was a latent subconscious response to her "boddler" mind? I smell a New Age self-help book idea!

1 comment:

haleagar said...

Well I have to say that he says Yes and Yea a lot too, but lately he hears the voice pattern go up like a question and he answers "no". And while I do say no I'm pretty sure that response was learned from the two year olds at the sitters. Because the parental desperate cry of no no no, or No-ooooo as some item falls, or goes in the mouth is not what he's emulating in style or circumstance.
Sill I'm trying to cut down on the "no", but it's going to come out anyway, and I don't think "please don't do that" or "we don't play with the stove" really counts as not saying "no" becasue "don't" / "not" should probably count as the same thing.