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.