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The N Word

Benjamin's got a new favorite word. No, not that N word. He's 17 months, so I'm obviously talking about the word "no."

I knew it was only a matter of time until this one entered the vernacular. The words I've been hearing most until recently have been such things as "fah tuck" (translation: fire truck), "car" (his first word and still a favorite), "Cash" (the dog), "kee-eey" (either kitty or key, depending), "cacker" (cracker), "nogurt" (yogurt) and "bahking" (for barking, which he says when he sees or hears any dog besides ours, who doesn't bark very much). There's been a very distinct pattern to his vocabulary: Almost all of his words up until recently have involved something with wheels, something with fur, or food.

But in the past month, we've also been hearing a lot of "hit," "kick," and "bite" — mostly because we are having to say with more regularity "no hitting," "no kicking" and "no biting." If the behavior weren't so frustrating, I'd probably be more fascinated by how his vocabulary develops right along with him. To his credit, he also says "nigh touch," which means "nice touches." When he says it, he runs his fingers gently and sweetly across his own hand or across someone else's arm. It's the term and action his daycare and now we use to emphasize good behavior rather than draw too much attention to the crap we don't like.

Benjamin & Mommy. Several "no's" were uttered during the making of this photograph.As I'm sure most toddlers (particularly boys) do, my son has a propensity for danger and getting into stuff he knows he's not supposed to. He's had countless bumps and bruises (and a chipped front tooth) already, and it only got worse when he started walking right around his first birthday. Now that he's more confident with his mobility, walking has turned into full-speed running, and when that gets too lame, he turns to climbing on things instead.

Exhibit A: The cute little pushcart we bought for him at IKEA months ago. He used to be perfectly content to load it up with books, toys and miscellaneous household items and push it around. And now? Booooring! He much prefers to stand inside of it, rendering it a smartly designed Swedish death wagon. (He can play with it again when he's 10.)

Exhibit B: Why read books when you can pile them up precariously and then stand on top of them? Fun!

Exhibit C: Silly parents. We thought we could just put items on top of our kitchen or dining-room tables to keep them out of reach. Not when you can just pull the tablecloth down — and all of the contents on top of you.

Exhibit D: That little nook behind the TV, the one with all the wires and power strips and sharp corners? New favorite hiding place.

Exhibit E: The dog's water and food dishes — not just for the dog anymore. Fun for splashing, snacking and for grossing Mommy out.

I could go on until Z, no problem.

As you can imagine, my darling boy hears the word "no" a lot these days, so it's only natural that he's started to say it, too. At first, it was pure mimicry, complete with accompanying finger-wagging and smirk. But it's changed in the past few days and now actually means something more.

Today, after seeing him yawning and rubbing his eyes, I asked him, "Are you sleepy?


"Do you want to go upstairs and take a rest?"


"Are you sure?"


And yesterday, after watching him pause, assume the official I'm Pooping in My Pants stance, gaze off into the distance for a few seconds, and then resume playing:

"Benjamin, did you poop?"


"Yes, poop! Good! Do you want a new diaper?"

"No. No diaper."

He was busy. He was playing. I get that. So I let him go until (A) he changed his mind or (B) the smell became too unbearable, whichever came first. I assumed it would be B, but a minute or two later, he ran over to the stairs and looked back at me, which I took to mean, "Why, yes, Mother, I do desire a clean diaper after all."

I know it's only a matter of time before the casual "no" leads to full-blown tantrums. I can see Benjamin gaining more independence and getting more upset when he doesn't get his way or isn't permitted to do what he wants. It will be a test, a battle to reveal if the mother I want to be (i.e., calm, cool, collected, in control) is actually the mother that I really am (i.e., the opposite of all of those things). Only time will tell.

And because it's Halloween, a gratuitous Cute Kid in a Costume shot.



Last year I dressed him as Charlie Brown because he was bald and because he had a yellow t-shirt, black sweatpants and I had a sheet of adhesive black felt, for some reason. That took approximately 3 minutes to assemble.

This year, I bought him a cape from Etsy, emblazoned with the letter B on it. He was going to be Super Ben, complete with a long-sleeve black t-shirt and, again, black sweatpants. It is seriously awesome. But my mother-in-law was dying to buy him this fancy lion costume, so I let her. She is far less lame than I am when it comes to these sorts of things.



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Reader Comments (1)

I absolutely LOVE reading this Blog and seeing the pictures you post! You are an awesome writer and an even more awesome Mom!!! (I was going to write that you were an even 'awesomer' (I'm sure that's not a real word)Mom, but thought that would probably make you crazy...such bad grammar and all!) Give Benjamin a big hug & kiss for me...miss you all...can't wait to see everyone again!

November 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Pam

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