Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Place of No

As my youngest enters full-on toddlerhood before my eldest's 5th birthday, our house faces a host of challenges. 

There's the thing where you have to feed them THREE TIMES a day EVERY DAY.

There's somehow getting them all to sleep at roughly the same time EVERY NIGHT.

And then, of course, there's trying to bring ALL OF THEM back in one piece from EACH AND EVERY outing you undertake. (For me, this week, that involved calling to the nice fellow selling ice cream at the park, "Could you catch that little blonde girl over there for me and hold onto her for a minute? Her brother should be out of the bathroom anytime now.") 

I'm finding it a bit of a challenge to stay on top of all the moving pieces.

As a result, I find myself over-reliant on the word, "NO". It's become my personal mantra. It's my "word of the day" every day and my go-to incantation morning, noon, and night.

I say NO a lot.

  • No! I'm not awake. Please stop jumping up and down on my sternum.
  • No! We're not having waffles. Eat your eggs!
  • No! You can't have dessert after breakfast!
  • No!!! Your sister's eyes are not a toy.
  • No, we're not going to the park; we're going to the eye doctor
  • NO! NOT MY HAIR! Ow. Ow. Ow. Let go!
  • No, don't bring your lovey into the car, you'll lose it.
  • NO. NO. NO. Please don't throw airplanes at my head while I'm driving.
  • Oh-No! Who put this Pop Tart in between the couch cushions?
  • No, you cannot slide one more time - you already slid four more "one more times"!
  • Nooooooo, I don't have any more snacks - your brother ate them all already - please stop rifling through my bag!
  • No, I don't want to eat whatever you found on the ground over there. 
  • NO! NO! NO! Don't give it to your sister either!
  • No, you can't have three doughnuts and a Matchbox car - we just came to the store to get toothpaste.
  • No, I'm sorry I don't want to play a 17th game of "Don't Break the Ice"
  • NO, we're not having ice cream for dinner, that was just that one time when I was too lazy to cook!
  • No, Daddy's not home yet! Let me call him again...
  • No! No! No! I beg you to stop hitting each other with cars and go to sleep!
I haven't done the precise calculations but I have to estimate that there are days when I say the word "No" roughly a thousand times between breakfast and bedtime.

It's an avalanche of No's. It's a cavalcade of No's. It's a non-stop NO all-the-time parade around here. 

Which on some level I recognize is reasonable. I mean, the main aspect of my job at present is to stop my offspring from doing harm to themselves or others for the majority of their waking hours, and that is naturally going to involve a good deal of redirection.

But still, I'm trying to work on curtailing my use of the word. I'm attempting to find times to say YES, even if it's just as simple as, 

"YES, you may have that car, if you agree to stop pounding your brother."


"YES, you may have a doughnut, but we're going to keep it as a snack for later."

or even

"YES, I can see how much joy pummeling me in the face is giving you, but let's both pummel this nearby stuffed shark instead, shall we?"

These are small steps toward turning the tide of NO, but it's a work in progress. I've still got plenty of No's in my arsenal -- I'm just trying to dole them out a bit more judiciously.

As in:

"No, please don't pour your entire cup of juice onto my keyboard, kid -- I'm trying to blog here..."