I was thinking the other day how generally easy-going The Boy is. We give him options on what he will wear, we let him decide what he wants to play with, we (try to) listen to him intently (sometimes without understanding a single word), and we take him very seriously.
That last part likely explains why “No!” isn’t something we often hear.
Last night at dinner, he said “no” quite a bit. “Do you want to eat?” we would ask. A stern shake of his head indicated the answer, and that was that. A few minutes later, we’d ask again, only to get the same response. We put him in his chair in front of his chicken nuggets, only to have him leap up and run back to his toys. Finally, I posited the winning question: “Do you want yogurt?” His eyes lit up, and he came running.
I read somewhere that the best way to keep a toddler’s use of “No!” at a minimum is to take his statement very seriously. In our case last night, he wasn’t really indicating that he didn’t want to eat, just that he didn’t want to eat chicken nuggets.
This finally registered this morning when I was dressing him. He awoke with remnants of a nosebleed and wet pajamas (through both of which he slept soundly for 11 hours, despite only having yogurt for dinner), so I quickly changed his diaper and dressed him in a t-shirt. After breakfast, I offered a couple of options for bottoms, and when neither met his approval, I chose a pair of shorts for him. Once dressed (complete with socks and shoes), he looked down at his shorts, grunted and tugged at them, then pointed to the beach pants he had previously scoffed. “Would you rather wear pants today?” I asked. “Ess,” he replied with a nod, then promptly sat down so that I could take off his shorts and dress him in pants.
It completely amazes me, this easy-going nature. I don’t dare claim that he’s a perfect child and never throws a tantrum. Quite the contrary – he refused five times to have his picture taken at school on Monday and is often adamant about wanting certain playthings (drumsticks and Thomas the Tank Engine, to be specific). But when he talks to us and we actually stop, get down to his level, and really listen, it’s like communicating with a little man.
A little man with a limited vocabulary and difficulty with pronunciation, sure, but a little man nonetheless.