When No doesn’t mean No.

Kiddo#4, at 18 months, is finally picking up useful words.

I get “Mommy” all the time. “Mah-mee?” Yes, Kiddo? “May-mee?” Yes, Kiddo? “Mah-mee?” Yes, Kiddo? “Mah-mee?” “Mah-mee?” “Mah-mee?” (You get the point.)

There are also times when he’s jabbering and I can only figure out what he’s saying if I don’t pay attention to the words, just reading his intonation and inflection.

But overall, his useful word is “no.”

As in, “Do you need a new diaper?” “NOOOOO!”

And, “Do you want a freezer pop?” “No.”

And following that second version of “No” (which sounds more like “neh”) he will trot over to the freezer and look at me with delight.

For you see, sometimes NO does not mean NO. In the world of Kiddo#4, NO is how you answer a question. It indicates that you have heard the question and have given your input on the matter.

He does give different kinds of answers, of course. The longer he draws out the NO, the more likely it is that he actually means he prefer your suggestion not be implemented. But it’s not a guarantee.

Meaning that most of the time, I have to resort to my maternal mind-reading powers (which are highly-developed, I assure you) and give our Kiddo the mistaken impression that he’s communicated.

Most of his speech is still jabber, that near-language where you feel that if only you listened just a little closer, you could make out what he was saying. He conveys a wealth of meaning through tone of voice and speed of speech and inflection. Just not actual information.

“Kiddo,” I say, “are you learning to talk?”

He replies, “No.”

And either way, he’s correct.

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About philangelus

Mom, freelance writer, novelist, angelphile, Catholic, know-it-all.
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7 Responses to When No doesn’t mean No.

  1. “Most of his speech is still jabber, that near-language where you feel that if only you listened just a little closer, you could make out what he was saying. He conveys a wealth of meaning through tone of voice and speed of speech and inflection. Just not actual information.”

    You have the makings of a successful politician there!

    God bless.

  2. capt_cardor says:

    They say that cats have the same intelligence level as a two year old child. We play this same game with our three cats. Sadly, Kiddo #4 will grow out of this game.

    But be careful. Kiddo #4 may become light-fingered.

  3. onebitcpu says:

    My son did the same thing. Since we always said “No” when he was about to do something dangerous, foolish or sensible to a two-year-old (touch hot things, play past bed time, etc), that be came the word for “I want it my way”.

    Learning the real meaning took a little longer, but he clued in that “yes” is better than “no” when asked “Do you want a cookie?” fairly quickly.

  4. Angie says:

    Ah, so cute! Mine will be two this week and still doesn’t quite have “yes” and “no” down, but he’s closer. I love when they’re just learning how to talk. So fun.

  5. Teresa says:

    My son would mumble “no-no, no-no” to himself as he was doing something he knew he shouldn’t. I always knew when he was getting into trouble. It was better than hanging a bell on him. He’s six now and has unfortunately grown out of that habit!

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