Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dr. No

I often appreciate the things my parents teach Kyle. They helped him learn how to walk, and these days they often practice the alphabet, numbers, and basic physics. Jennifer and I usually enjoy discovering what new things Kyle has learned after spending some time with his grandparents, but I don't think we can ever forgive my father for what he taught our son this past weekend.

Thanks to my dad, Kyle now has full command of the word "no." For some odd reason, my dad decided it would be fun to practice this word with him, as a way to get him to better express himself, as if his whining, screaming, and flinging things across the room didn't quite get the message across clearly. Now, he also says "no" before doing all those things.

(Above: Kyle says "no" to his books, his shoes, and the entire commonwealth of Massachusetts)

Now, don't get me wrong: I never expected Kyle to somehow miss that word in his vocabulary. I suppose it would have been strange for him to be a full-grown adult and not know what the word "no" means. And learning the word "no" isn't necessarily a bad thing, as no father wants his son to become a "yes" man. Still, I was hoping that maybe we'd get a few more weeks or months before he'd start using the word regularly. I didn't expect it to happen less than a week before his birthday. Now we have a new slew of potential difficulties.

"Kyle, give our guest a hug."
"But she wants a hug."
"Kyle, that's not nice."
"No dan kwo."

Jennifer and I are trying to get him to at least say "no thank you." If he's going to refuse everything under the sun, he might as well be polite about it.

This new development is already affecting our daily routine. Kyle now acts like he's at a restaurant, turning away his meal with a flick of the hand and a "no," as if his Cheerios were somehow undercooked. Just before bedtime yesterday, he refused all the books I picked to read by throwing them out of his crib and into the alligator pit (we're still baby proofing). I then started pulling books out of the book basket to see if there was one he preferred. He said "no" to about ten books before I realized that he didn't want me to read; he just wanted me to empty the entire basket and create the mess he usually makes. With the power of "no," he's learning how to delegate! I soon put an end to that, and Kyle went to bed crying. Thanks, Dad.

To be honest, I suppose I deserve this. There once was a time when Kyle would cry over something I'd try to give him (usually food), and I, being the cruel father that I am, would mock him by saying, "Well, kiddo, if you don't want this, just say so!" I would then laugh menacingly, shoving the food into Kyle's mouth as he would wail. Ah, good times. Now that he says the word "no," I can't do that anymore. Now I have to mock him about something else, like his basketball skills.

This whole "no" thing is really throwing me off. I suppose I will get used to it, as I have done with almost every other phase. I'm sure Kyle will add "yes" to his vocabulary soon, too. Until then, it's going to be another battle. I'll just have to stay strong, fight the refusals, and teach that compromise is much better than stubbornly saying "no" to everything. Of course, if I fail with that, I guess Kyle's next step would be to become a DC politician.

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