Our angelic “terrible 2”-year-old had a big breakthrough this week. He learned to say yes!

I never thought about what a huge developmental leap this concept must be. Clearly, no is more compelling and immediate early in life; most of what happens to us just happens, so the need to reject the things we absolutely don’t want is the first priority. Everything else is just how it is. But I guess it always goes this way, as his tastes refined, he was spending more and more time with no, not this way, not until I say so, not unless it’s my idea. No! No! Nooooo! The first “yesch” was startling. I’d forgotten it was an option, and I think it might have taken our little guy by surprise too.

As someone who’s struggled much of my life not to always agree to everything, I was confused by how moved I’ve been by his little affirmative declarations. Some of it is relief. Yes, there is life after tantrums and refusals and kicks in the face.

But it’s more than that. Yes implies a whole world of choice, and power, and a million branching life path possibilities. Yes means we can pick the things we’ll do. What we really want. Suddenly refusal isn’t the only option, and it’s like a whole new world opened up. Hope, opportunity, the sense that things can change.

Until he couldn’t have a cookie before dinner, and collapsed on the floor wailing. I guess no still has its uses too.