I've come to the conclusion that Jonah loves, I mean he's truly thrilled to his very core, to hear me say the word "no."
Why else would he continue to ask and bargain and beg for what he wants, even though he knows the answer, and to my knowledge asking and bargaining and begging never gets him what he wants? Seriously, he can't really believe it will actually work.
"Mom, when you're done with the dishes, can I play in the water?"
"Um... I don't think so. You can spray the bubbles out of the sink for me, though."
"But I'm just gonna play in the water. When you're all done."
"No, Jonah. You're not. This is not a place to play."
"But I waaaaant to! Can I? Please? I'm going to. Can I just play in the water? Yeah, I'm going to."
Continue until your eyes ask to poke themselves out for you.
"Mom, can I watch Little Bear again?"
"You just watched it yesterday. Not today."
"But I waaaaant to! Can I, please?"
"Thank you for asking nicely, but no."
23 seconds pass quietly while he silently hopes I'll forget what I just said.
"Mom, I wanna watch Little Bear. Please can I?"
"Didn't I already answer that? What did I say?"
So he changes his tactic. "Yeah, but I'm gonna watch Little Bear."
"No. You're not."
"Mom, I'm really, really dirty. Look how dirty I am. Can I take a bath?"
"Hm. You're not that dirty. You just took a bath last night. It's not bathtime."
"But can I just take a bath?"
"No. Not now."
"But I'm really, really, really, really dirty. I just really need a bath."
No answer from the Mom Department because, while he my thrill at the sound of it, she's gotten pretty tired saying the word in question.
"But I just waaaaant tooooo! I wanna take a bath! Can I? Can I? Can I? Mom? Can I? Can I take a bath? Mom, I'm gonna take a bath now. Can I?"
Ignoring it does not seem to make it go away.
"Mom, I'm really, really hungry. Can I have some lunch?"
"Jonah, we just had breakfast. You can't be that hungry. You can have a snack in a little while, but right now you should go play."
"But I'm soooooo hungry! Can I have a apple? Can I have a orange? Can I have desert?"
"Jonah! Go. Play. If your tummy needs something, you should have a drink of water. It is not eating time right now."
"Waaaaahhh!!! I'm huuuuungrrrrry! I neeeeed some fooooood!"
"It's lunchtime now, Mom! Can you get me some food?"
"But I'm huuungryyy!"
It's not like I never let him do these things, and we do all kinds of things together every day and he plays pretty well by himself-- he's not lacking in entertainment and occupation. And yet, for some reason, we repeat these conversations all day, every day. So I've come to the conclusion that hearing the word "no" from my maternal lips satisfys some deep, psychological need in him and surely encourages his brain and character development. I guess I just have keep slogging through it, faithfully providing this surely vital nutrient.