White Boys Can’t Nod

Dear Eleanor and Wesley,

I came to an amazing revelation this morning sitting down with Wes for breakfast. I was doing what one does with a wiggly toddler who is bereft of language, making dumb faces with over large motions. Eventually you started mimicking my every move, creating the perfect conditions for an experiment. When I shook my head side to side in “no” fashion, unsurprisingly your head shot back and forth like one of those springy door stops of which you are so fond. However, when it came to your “yes” effort, the results were entirely unexpected. Your whole body tensed up like you were getting dizzy, and you clumsily pushed your head forward as if the basic notion of agreement were making you wretch. You could hardly even do it. By some subconscious law of basic communication, the universal sign for “yes” is entirely beyond you and yet “no” is seemingly second nature. Speaking from experience, that knee jerk tendency towards “no” will get worse before it gets better. Hooray for the two’s! 

It can be hard to figure out when it is the right time cave in and when it is the right time to stick to your guns. You don’t want to be the “yes man” following the crowd right off the first bridge you come across. On the other hand, you don’t want to be the guy constantly raining on everyone’s parade by proclaiming “NO” to every idea you see. Here’s a quick guide on when to jump on the bandwagon and when to let it pass you by. 

When your Dad offers to take you on a carnival ride…SAY YES!
When a sketchy guy offers to take you on a ride in his sketchy van…SAY NO!

When your teacher buys powdered donuts for the class…SAY YES! 
When a weird dude at a party hands you an unmarked baggy of powder and tells you to snort it up your nose…SAY NO! 

When you are taking a bath and Mom tells you to stop throwing every toy within arms reach at your sister who is now crying hysterically and nursing a series of bruises from the near constant barrage of flung plastic…SAY YES! (Or OKAY, but seriously stop) 
When you see something going on that you know in your gut is not right, but everyone else seems okay with it…SAY NO! (And stand up against the ones who are doing the hurting and for the ones who are being hurt.) 

I think you’re getting the picture here. It’s not complicated. On the other hand, when you get into the thick of it, it can feel very complicated. Right now, when you’re little, you contend with a burgeoning ability to defiantly scream a “no” when we tell you that iPads make bad Frisbees. A few years down the line, it’ll be a battle against saying “yes” to the dumb ideas and temptations that come your way. You’ll do the right thing and no one will notice. You’ll make mistakes and we’ll handle it bad. On occasion, the stars will align, and a hard choice will pay off. So while we figure it out, we’ll bank on the fact that around here the forgiveness never runs out. 



  1. “You’ll do the right thing and no one will notice. You’ll make mistakes and we’ll handle it bad.” Oh so true. I’m digging the great insight. Cool blog!

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