No! Mommy’s shoulder is not for teething purposes.
No! Don’t drink the cats’ water.
No! Pound on daddy‘s laptop instead.
Lately we’ve been saying “no” ’round here even more frequently than we sigh, “The Kardashians are on TV again?!” Oh yes, we say it THAT MUCH.
Miss Skye is no dummy; the one-year-old knows exactly what “no” means: that she should immediately disengage from the cats’ water bowl, smile sweetly to let us know she is an angel who would never intentionally seek out trouble, then wait for us to get distracted so she can finally return to lapping up the cats’ fur-filled water.
Can’t blame her. The kid needs to drink something to wash down the fleshy chunks of my shoulder.
But wait…! According to something I overheard at a party, I am supposed to refrain from saying the N-word anywhere near my child.
“We try to say ‘that’s not for babies’ or ‘that’s not a good idea’ instead of no,” the parent of a 14-month-old divulged to a circle of fellow parents, who all nodded in agreement. “We don’t think it’s good for children to learn that word.”
That word. Said in hushed tones, as if she were referring to something really and truly horrific. Like the flood in Pakistan. Or life without chocolate.
Uh-oh. Only twelve months into this parenting gig, and I am already guilty of teaching my child habits that are universally frowned upon? (Well, besides the Ben & Jerry’s for lunch and Gossip Girl for pre-bedtime entertainment. Also known as Meltdown Preemption. Skye gets very cranky when she’s not kept apprised of the latest in Upper East Side tights and headband trends.) Yet, as Carrie Bradshaw would say, I couldn’t help but wonder… aren’t there times when a firm N-O is necessary and more effective than, say, a shake of my head and tsk-tsk*?
Confused, I turned to the No-Fail, Totally Credible Holy Grail of Parenting for answers. And, when my Google search for “saying no to kids is bad?” proved inconclusive, I turned to my mom.
“You young parents crack me up with your alternative discipline and crap,” Mom responded. “Of course you should say no. Kids have to learn right from wrong.”
“But what if Skye starts saying ‘no’ back to me?”
“Not if. When.”
“Then I sit back and laugh.”
The take-away here is clear: we all have different parenting techniques — most of them well-intentioned — but kids should learn to say “no,” if only to refuse drugs and to react the inevitable return of acid wash jeans in their lifetime. Also, never seek parental advice from a grandparent. Their only mission is karma-driven revenge.
*To the mother who used this technique when her child kicked the back of my seat for most of a five-hour flight: Next time I am going to SIC MY CHILD ON YOUR SHOULDER.