You Don’t Have to Be a Two-Year-Old to Say No All the Time

by Andy Wood on February 19, 2012

in Life Currency, Photos, Words

Cohen's first shower. Guess what he said when I told him it was time to get out?

My oldest grandson turns two this week.

I think he’s already been practicing.

Cohen has been staying with Papa and Grammy for the last few days because his six-week-old baby brother is in the hospital with a bad case of RSV.

For the most part everybody is weathering the temporary adjustment.  But “the most part” wasn’t around at 7:00 yesterday morning.

Typically when he wakes up at first, he can be, um, “encouraged” to go back to sleep by putting him in our bed.  Only this morning a certain somebody decided to turn over and douse my side of the bed with 20 gallons of soak-through.


So… changed diaper in place… You want to watch cartoons?


No, Cohen, don’t touch that.  Want some milk?


No, Cohen, don’t throw the pillows.  Want some banana?


No, don’t throw your food on the floor.  Want some apple?


No, don’t throw your spoon!  Want some oatmeal (which he had eaten really well the last three days)?


No, I’m not going to give you the milk.  You just threw it on the floor.  Want to hold the spoon and feed yourself?


There was more, but I think you get the picture.  It was a battle of the “No’s.”  And in a matter of minutes, I was waving the white flag.

Hey, it beats waving a kid.

I’ve had time to think about this epic struggle of the No’s.  Well, not so epic, but it felt like it yesterday morning.  There are the obvious things, like…

Yep.  The twos are as advertised, or…

I’m just jealous because his will is stronger than mine, or…

Now I know how the Lord feels in dealing with me sometimes.

But there are some other random thoughts and ideas the Lord brought to my mind about the whole business of saying, “No” – whether it’s to Him, to each other, to perfectly good opportunities, or to something tangible we actually need.  In spite of the fact that saying no often can deny us of something good or disappoint someone who cares for us, including the Lord, we will still say no…

1.  When we’re out of the comfort of our routines.

My grandson and I were both gnarly because we both have our morning routines, and we were messing with each other’s habits.  Routines (I didn’t say “ruts”) are actually an important part of designing our lives.  But if we design our routines with precious little flexibility or availability, we’re heading on a collision course with a rude “no.”

2.  When we’re scared or insecure about the outcomes.

Nobody’s really saying it, but everybody’s a little anxious.  And we’re fools if we don’t believe that others pick up on that.  Cohen has never spent this much time with us in one setting before, other than a trip to Disney last fall.  This is no trip to Disney.  And if a two-year-old is smart enough to pick up on an anxious situation, what do you think 32-year-olds will do when they can’t predict all the outcomes in the places where God is calling them or good-hearted people are leading them?  Our knee-jerk reaction is to say no as well.  By the way, if you’re in leadership, this may explain why people are hesitant to follow your vision.  They’re not seeing the image of success as clearly as you are.

3.  When we don’t understand what’s going on.

I once heard someone say that when it feels as if the bottom is falling out, it’s just the Lord pouring you into a bigger bucket.  Fair enough – but tell that to the person who feels as though they’re in a freefall.  When things are happening that we don’t understand, it’s hard to muster the courage or faith to say yes when every instinct in us says, “Protect yourself!”

4.  When we don’t trust the heart of someone.

This one hurts a little, because we all want to be trusted completely.  But sometimes the signals we give off are communicating something entirely different.  After a few collisions of the will yesterday morning, my grandson temporarily wrote me off as someone he couldn’t trust.  That’s sad, but so.  But you know what’s sadder?  The number of times I’ve “bumped into” the Lord and decided for the moment I didn’t trust Him.  I know that probably never happens to you, but sometimes when I’ve “felt His hand,” I have trouble trusting His heart.

5.  When we’re bound and determined to do things our own way.

Arguing with a two-year-old is like arguing with a referee.  You may be right about the issues, but you’re going to lose. You may win the battle, but lose the war.  At some point yesterday morning, we both decided that what was at stake was who was going to get their way.  And we each had a mental picture – a path – about what that had to look like.  There was no Plan B.  No compromise. And so anything short of MY way was HIGHway.  No, no, no!

6.  When we’re hurting or don’t feel good.

Cohen got the virus first, and he’s still getting over it.  I was a little sleep-deprived, but mainly just ornery.  But pain or feeling bad or fatigue becomes a breeding ground for a case of the No’s.  And it doesn’t take a two-year-old to make that happen.  Hurting people say no.  Tired people say no.  Wounded people say no. Sick people say no. And it’s not a reflection of the quality of the offer or the person making it.  It’s all about what’s going on in our inner world.

7.  When communication is unclear.

This was probably the biggest issue.  He still says words that make perfect sense to him, while I’m saying, “Whaaaat?”  Neither of us could get through to the other with understanding.  And a lack of understanding will always produce a “no” response.  That’s a good reminder if you’re in sales, management, leadership, or parenting.  Sometimes people say no to your offer because you haven’t communicated clearly.  Or, in the case of God, we haven’t heard clearly.

8.  When we’d rather walk around with dry Frosted Flakes and somebody else is offering oatmeal in a high chair.

Sometimes we just don’t want what somebody else is offering.  And it’s not about some deep issue.  It’s just a matter of taste or preference.  The problem is, two-year-olds don’t know how to say, “Oh, that was so nice of you to make oatmeal for me for the third day in a row, but if you don’t mind, I think I would prefer Frosted Flakes, dry.”

He said the one thing he knew to say:  No.

One Grammy and a little cup with dry cereal in it later, he was a happy camper, at least for the time being.

Was I?

Hmmph.  I think you know the answer to that.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Beth February 20, 2012 at 9:20 am

Excellent analogy Andy, so TRUE and very funny, Thank you! WE are so stubborn aren’t we?

I will be praying healing prayers for your little grand baby. Keep us posted on his progress.
Blessings to you and your family~

Andy Wood February 20, 2012 at 11:36 am

Thanks Beth. He’s making progress, just not there yet. Please keep praying.

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