I say no to my kids on a regular basis.
I don’t even think twice about it these days, since it’s essentially become an automatic, knee-jerk response. Some days I even find myself doing a double take, like when I realize I’ve said no to a request that actually makes complete sense. For example, my son will ask me for a snack, and I’ll say no, and then he follows it up by clarifying that he meant a fruit. I think he’s playing me in these circumstances, personally, because he knows perfectly well what he can and cannot get away with, and also that the guilt I feel for having said no too fast plays in his favor, and he usually can win over some sympathy points for later use.
I was recently reminded of the importance of this single, powerful word when I read a NY Times article on the benefits of saying ‘no’ to your child. Just the day before, I had said no to my son when he forgot his homework at home and wanted me to hand deliver it to him at school. Although I followed his request with a resounding ‘no’, I then pondered the possibility that I may actually be a long-lost sister of the Wicked Witch clan- maybe the one that hasn’t yet been officially introduced to the public. A witch because I dared not help out my own flesh and blood, and in his time of dire need.
* sigh *
No, But Really.
Listen, no matter how much we love our kids, we must remember that saying no is ok. It can even become an educational experience on their end.
Without further ado, here is a list I compiled of the past week’s no-I-will-not’s that my children were begrudgingly subjected to:
No, we cannot vacation in Africa this weekend. It’s closed.
No, I will not go back home and get your homework. You’ll have to just get marked down for forgetting. I’m cringing because I know you’ll mark me down on that imaginary scoreboard in your head and that I’ll pay for it somewhere, someday.
No, I will not lay here with you 1 more minute. I’ve laid here a total of 33 minutes already by giving in to each of your ‘will-you-lay-here-for-just-one-more-minute’ requests.
No, you cannot have those lit shoes that everyone else somehow seems to have just because it’s Tuesday. I realize Mommy has several dozens of her own, but Mommy also works and has 79 new gray hairs from work, and from being Mommy. I also realize I used the word ‘lit’, but I’m trying to keep up with the lingo.
No, you cannot have the cookies as a side dish to your dinner. Cookies are a dessert. I know Mommy had a few right before dinner but those were made of broccoli.
No, I cannot pick you up and carry you around because you’re tired- you weigh 70 pounds! And by the way, I’m tired, too- could you pick ME up?
No, you cannot buy ice cream from the ice cream truck. You’ve had it every day this week and it’s a little strange at this point that the ice cream man is quasi-stalking us at every one of our afternoon activities- does he have the password to my calendar? Kind of creepy.
No, I do not have a secret bank account and no, we cannot ‘buy that Ferrari.’ If I did have a secret bank account, though, I would consider it.
No, you cannot have a play date. It’s 9 PM.
No, I will not return your brother to the store. He came with a ‘no returns or exchanges’ policy. No, there is no store manager you can speak with at the moment.
To end this post with some positivity, though, remember that, despite saying no repeatedly- like, on a daily basis (I’d even put that figure closer to hourly, if I’m being realistic about my boys) we also do have our incredible ‘yes’ moments.
Yes, I’ll give you a piggyback ride around the family room while you finish that popsicle. I’m in a yes-kind-of-mood!