Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Does "No" really mean "No"?

I was sitting on the couch reading a magazine when I heard the kids conspiring over in the corner. Realizing they were up to something, I kept my ear on the conversation.

"Go ask her," Amy whispered.

"No, she's just gonna' say no," Emma mumbled.

"Not if YOU ask her. She will let you do anything, Emma," Keith retorted.

"Okay," Emma resigned, and crept over to me, smiling widely.

"Mom?" she began.

"Uh-huh?" I asked, not looking up.

"Um, well..." she floundered.

I put down the magazine and looked at her.

"No," I said, and picked up the magazine.

"What?" she asked incredulously.

I put the magazine back down, paused and said, "I said no."

"What did you? How did you? ..." she sputtered.

"Emma," I began, "Keith and Amy, you, too, come here."
"Guys, I know you want to have some cake, but we're having dinner in about an hour. So, no, you may not have cake. But you CAN have some fruit."

The three looked crestfallen. They walked away grumbling.

"How did she know?" Amy whispered.

"Because she's mom," Keith replied in an exaggerated whisper.

As a mom, I had no idea how often I would have to say "no." I think the only thing I say more than "no" is "I love you."

Just this morning I think I said "no" 728 times- per child.

"Mom can I have... Mom will you buy me... Mom can we go... Mom, please???"

No, no, no, no and no.

Sometimes they try to be tricky and make me say "yes": "Mom, you wouldn't say 'no' if we asked you for a coke, would you?"

"Yes. I would say no."

"Is that a yes or a no?"

"You may NOT have a coke. Got it?"

"Yes, ma'am," they respond, eyes downcast.

How many ways can you say "no"? I know I've said them ALL!

How much can they beg and plead for me to change my mind? I know I've heard them ALL!

By the end of the day, I'm often exhausted from the continuous banter, begging, pouting, stomping, griping, complaining, etc... I can only sigh as a response, instead of actually getting out a "no." But, that doesn't deter my persistent, determined children. Oh no. They see that as a sign of weakness, and will use that as an opportunity to drill me more, trying to break me. "If we keep it up, I know she'll say yes," I can almost hear them say to each other.

That's when I finally use successful ultimatums, or absolutely lose my mind. It's a toss up as to which way I'm going to go. It sort of depends on if I've had enough sleep, enough food, and how much they already badgered me earlier in the day.

Either way, by the time I go to bed, I feel like I've said "no" way too much, and "I love you" not nearly enough. I know, objectively, that it is not the case. But "no" doesn't come easily to me, and I can find myself feeling very guilty and inadequate for not having my children be blissfully happy every moment of the day.

Fortunately, hubby balances me out and backs me up. We're a "team" and we try to head off trouble before it comes to "no". But some things are completely unavoidable.

And so we face another day, filled with questions that are going to inevitably be answered by "no." Wishing we could always say "yes." Knowing there's no way we can, yet wishing just the same.

Someday, they will probably have the same issues with their kids. And we'll be grandparents. And then, we can smile broadly at our grandchildren and say "Why, yes, honey!"
And when our kids stare at us, mouth agape, and sputter, "Who are YOU? You would have NEVER told US yes!"
We can look at them with a gleam in our eye, and say, "Because they're our grandchildren!!! And YOU have to take them home!"...
Just like our parents do to us now...

1 comment:

ThePrincessMommy said...

I can't WAIT to do this to my children!!!! LOL