Thursday, May 19, 2011


"No" is a very powerful word.

"Is it life-threatening?" - "No".

"Did I pay that bill late?" - "No."

"Do you want fries with that?" - "No."

The Monkey (formerly known as the Mad Toddler) wields the word "no" like a shield - for defensive purposes, to allow the verbal assaults of his family members to bounce off his small consciousness into the inoffensive atmosphere around his tousled head.

Earlier this week, we (the Monkey and I) were cuddling up at bedtime, reading his new book about big trucks. It should have been a golden moment. Only, I had to go and ruin it all! The Monkey has this thing about my hair - my hair is his security blanket (which explains a lot about the reasons why he is rooming with ArtGuy and me). When tired, sick, or just needing a little comfort, he wraps his hands in my hair (even if it is in a ponytail - ouch!). This is also a part of our bedtime routine. So, this particular night, we were reading all about big rigs, the Monkey's hands woven in and around my hair, when he had the misfortune to sneeze.

Little kids, when they sneeze, automatically pull their arms in towards their bodies. I learned this when my oldest nephew, Petey (now 20) was an infant. I laid him on the floor and hung over him, playing peek-a-boo. He grabbed my long hair in both his hands, and sneezed....hard..... I have never forgotten the pain involved, but I obviously relaxed my guard the other night.

The Monkey sneezed - "Ac-hoo!" - and just about ripped my hair resting in his left hand out of my scalp. I yelped. It was an automatic reaction. It just....dang....hurt!

I quickly laughed, to prove to the Monkey that I was not angry or mad, and said something like, "Silly Mommy yelled when you pulled her hair, but everything is fine now!"

Only everything was not fine now.

The Monkey stared defiantly at me, refusing to "curl" my hair again. I though the best way to handle it all was just to keep reading and let it blow over. The Monkey had no intention of letting it go. He shows his displeasure with one small word....

Me: This is a tractor.

Monkey: No it's not

Me: It has big wheels

Monkey: No, it doesn't

Me: It is as tall as three children

Monkey: No, it's not.

Me: Farmers use tractor to dig up fields.

Monkey: No, they don't.

Me: (turning page) This is a cement truck.

Monkey: No, it's not

Me: It has many parts - the hopper...

Monkey: No

Me: ...the chute...

Monkey: No

Me: ...the exhaust pipe...

Monkey: No

Me: ...the drum

Monkey: No

Ad infinatum - for about 10 more pages! I just kept reading to see how long he would keep it up. He is relentless.

The Monkey also uses the word no as an indication of a state of denial when he encounters something unpleasant. For example, any mention of potty-training. Case-in-point - our conversation this afternoon:

Me: Why are you hiding?

Monkey: The bike needs to go poopy.

Me: I think you need to go poopy - not the bike. Why don't you go poopy in the potty?

Monkey: No.

Me: I will buy you a toy.

Monkey: No.

Me: A car?

Monkey: No.

Me: A pony?

Monkey: No.

Me: Real estate?

Monkey: No.

Me: You are a big boy now. Big boys use the potty.

Monkey: No, they don't.

Me: Sure they do! Romeo uses the potty.

Monkey: No, he doesn't.

Romeo: Yes, I do!

Monkey: No.

Me: Romeo goes poopy in the potty.

Monkey: No, he doesn't. 

Me: Yes, he does. He doesn't wear diapers. Isn't that right, Romeo.

Romeo: That's right! I wear underpants.

Monkey: No, you don't.

The Monkey does not surrender. He continues his barrage of the negative until the unpleasant subject has been dropped.

It is quite impressive, what he can convey with one, small, two-letter word.

I would tell him that only he would just say,