Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Yes And No

Tom has finally mastered these.

It’s taken him a while. Up until a week or so ago, when asked a question, Tom would answer no when he meant yes, and no when he meant no.

This obviously led to a little confusion. Occasionally it was quite easy to determine which of the two answers he meant. Would you like some chocolate? No. This obviously and irrefutably meant yes. Would you please lie still while I apply some barrier cream to your tender-most areas? No. This generally meant no.

I must admit I was a little concerned as to why Tom had decided that no was the stock answer to every single question directed at him. It wasn’t as if we were denying him his every wish and desire. However, a little observation led to the answer. When you have a young toddler marauding around the house, attempting to operate sundry mechanical objects such as washing machines, ovens, DVD players and other delicate electrical devices of extortionate cost you tend to find yourself calling “no” out loud rather a lot.

Small wonder then that Tom saw no as a standard form of expression.

But somehow over the last 10 days or so he’s had a semantic break-through. His grasp of language has leapt. His vocabulary has increased exponentially. He’s discovered the glorious positivity of the word yes.

Would you like some chocolate? Yes.

Would you like a cheese sandwich (a great favourite)? Yes.

Would you please lie still while I apply some barrier cream to your tender-most areas? No.

The yes and no parts of his brain are now functioning normally. He can express his burgeoning opinions (and he has many) correctly and effectively. It’s marvellous. I’m very proud of him.

But it has made me wonder – this very significant developmental stage – how often we, as adults, unlearn this most important of lessons. How many times do we say no when we mean yes – denying ourselves some pleasurable item because we feel guilty or not worthy? Or, worse still, how many times do we say yes when we really, truly mean no – allowing ourselves to be put upon unfairly, or finding ourselves completing some onerous task that only serves to make us feel miserable and victimized?

Now that Tom has grasped the difference between yes and no I’m going to do all in my power to ensure that his understanding of them remains pure and unalloyed for the rest of his life.

But that barrier cream is still going to get applied. Sorry, Tom.


32 comments:

Mark said...

Reminds me of that character in the Vicar of Dibley: 'No no no no no no no no yes.'

In parts of Asia it is considered impolite to say no, so you have to ask questions very carefuly. 'What time will the bus arrive?' is much better than 'Will the bus arrive soon?' As I found to my cost when waiting 12 hours for a bus in Nepal.

Steve said...

Mark: sounds like the buses in Nepal have a lot in common with the buses in Leamington Spa...

Gina said...

Awww I do love to hear about little Tom. He sounds such a sweetie!

One of mine (and I am sad to say I cannot recall which!) used to say "yo" which kind of covered both options. It was the manner in which he said it which told you whether it was a yo-yes or a yo-no.

I'm not sure I often say "no" when I mean "yes" but I do sometimes find my mouth is saying "yes" whilst my mind is very definitely saying "no".

Steve said...

Gina: yes, sometimes Tom would give a certain inflection which left you in no doubt of which he meant... but it's much nicer to hear him say yes so gleefully when he very definitely means it!

You need to say no more often to the bad stuff! ;-)

ArtSparker said...

I think no is an assertion of the self, wheres with yes one is yielding to the other - the ego taking precedence over rationality.

Steve said...

ArtSparker: I think I need to assert myself a little more (certainly at work)! ;-)

Löst Jimmy said...

yes/no is the core of everything really

No?

Steve said...

Löst Jimmy: yes.

Suburbia said...

Gosh, what a great question. We often do say the opposite of what we mean don't we?

Great that he has sorted it out though :)

Steve said...

Suburbia: the shocking thing is how many times each day we sometimes give the "wrong answer"...!

The Sagittarian said...

Don't worry, by the time he's a teenager he will have it sorted for sure! No will mean he is still talking to you!

Clippy Mat said...

ah yes, he knows no. no?
yes.
good lad
:-)

Steve said...

Amanda: now there's a world weary thought! ;-)

Clippy Matt: glad I've made it all so clear!

electro-kevin said...

I hope that Tom is OK.

Unalloyed. I shall look that up and use it in my next post.

French Fancy said...

Maybe if I practiced saying NO a bit more often my hips might be smaller. I've never denied myself anything unfortunately.

Great news about Tom's development though - goodness, being a parent must be such a worry.

Steve said...

Electro-Kevin: A newly discovered word is always a joy. I'm always on the look-out for them.

FF: A worry, yes, but also a joy. No doesn't come into either of those.

-eve- said...

This was cool... I never knew yes and no were such complex things, but you put it in a whole new light :-) bringing up kids must be pretty enlightening :-)

Steve said...

Eve: it certainly makes you think about things and see them in a new light.

Annie said...

With you being a sci-fi fan I'm surprised you haven't taught him to say "affirmative" or "negative" instead. That would be a hoot!

French Fancy said...

I see you've taken down your FB link on the right here - it wasn't me that caused that, was it? Do you feel your privacy has been invaded rather?

Steve said...

Annie: we're still working on "exterminate! exterminate!"

FF: puzzling! My Facebook link is still there... largely unused by me but still there...! Can you not see it?

Owen said...

Getting back to the basics... yes / no... on / off ... 0 / 1

Guess most of evolution on this planet has been driven by simple yes/no choices by various organisms along the line...

So, has he learned how to say "maybe" ?

Steve said...

Owen: no, "maybe" is, I suspect, quite a major developmental step along the same lines as "rain cheque", "when the cows come home" and "Inshallah"...

Janete Cabral said...

Well written Steve !

Just wait for year 2... it's mine !!

Great to hear about him :)

All the best

Janete

Steve said...

Janete: thank you - nice to have you drop by too!

Gypsy said...

What a delightful post. This really took me back to the good old days of toddlerhood. Instead of yes/no answers these days I mostly get the rolling of the eyes because mothers are so stupid you know or the put upon sigh. I think I definitely prefer those responses which don't involve a lot of attitude.

Bless Tom's little cotton socks that he's got it all worked out. Now if only I could do the same my life would be infinitely easier.

Steve said...

Gypsy: yes, I'm getting the distinct impression that I should make the most of this delightful development while it lasts...!

Owen said...

So it may take a few "donkey's years" ? Whatever those are !
;-)

A Write Blog said...

'Yes' and 'No' are the first words that children use to express control. It's the simplest way to exercise that and when first discovered will be played with by the cleverer children.

Now you've just got to go through all the other games they play in order to test their powers of control.

Steve said...

AWB: Tom's already doing it which certainly bodes well for his intelligence if not my patience...!

The Poet Laura-eate said...

One day he'll be paying someone to apply that barrier cream! ;-)

And of course he'll blame it on you!

Steve said...

Laura: as long as he slings me into a top notch nursing home I won't mind too much!