No. As parents, most of us have an active relationship with this word. I think it’s one of the most important words in the parent arsenal. It allows us to set limits. Although it feels negative, I think it’s good for kids. I actually believe children kind of crave it, because most children I know like to be aware of their limits. They may not realize it at the time, but if they know what is acceptable, “type A” kids will be relieved and the ornery kiddos will know where the line is that they are supposed to toe. Everyone wins.
The Gremlin Target Trip
I’d like to pretend my family is the one you never notice in Target. That we are a docile unit moving through the aisles as gracefully as synchronized swimmers. Some days we aren’t so bad; however, on our worst days, my children turn from normal, loving individuals into wild and attention-deprived-albeit cute- gremlins. They even admit to this once we exit. During the gremlin trips, my children ask for things constantly. They beg up and down the toy aisle (that I try desperately to avoid in most stores, but there is always that one aisle I didn’t see coming). I must have given in once, and that has given them wide eyes of possibility in these stores even though the times I’ve said no completely outweigh the times I’ve uttered yes. Parents such as myself have to build up a steely reserve. If we are not ready for a cute request for an adorable doll or the newest, brightest ball, then we could cave. Caving once is bound to happen, but it can be a gateway leading to a mountain of toys. I find that my children’s requests in the toy aisle must be met with a pre-plan of refusal because the children can sense ambivalence. We must not let down our guard. As parents, we must be on our toes with “no.” Saying no to my children is one skill I’ve almost mastered, and I feel very balanced in that regard. The gremlin days are almost completely gone at this point, but that’s because I’m prepared with a no if we absolutely do not need what they are requesting. At home and at Target, saying no has gotten easier when it’s for their own good. But like most people, saying no in my professional life is quite a bit more difficult.
The Professional No
I love my job, and I want to do the best I can for my students. Every year, I think I can balance it all at work, and then come home and do the very same in my house. This thought usually occurs the last week of July, before the scheduling madness ensues. I’ve tried to give myself an indicator as to whether a request for my energy would be too much for me and my family. I’ve tailored how many letters of recommendation I can feasibly write, how many presentations I can realistically make, and how many hours a night I should allow for school. I’m not always successful in this endeavor, but balance is what I seek. I do this so that I have more patience for my children’s needs at home. Whenever that balance is tipped away from my family, I can feel the house’s chaos increase, and I know I need to cut back somewhere to regain some semblance of control.
The Personal Yes
Finally, one place where no comes too easily is in my personal life. I think this is a common battle for most parents. Sometimes it just seems harder to actually go out with friends or on a date night with our significant others than it is to just stay at home. Whenever I get asked to a get-together or an event, no is right there on the tip of my tongue. This never used to be the case. Lately, it has become a reflex to decline adult fun; however, this is one of my resolutions for the rest of my thirties and beyond. It is so healthy to get out of the house and foster a marriage or a friendship. We need this so desperately as humans and parents. My friends are such amazing, professional people, and if they can find the time and the babysitters, then I should be able to do this as well. The busy kid factor can be detrimental. After all, a happy mom keeps a happy house.
The common theme for my battle with no or yes seems to be balance. Every once in a while, it wouldn’t hurt to shake up what is the established normal. We need to get out and enjoy the beauty of life and the amazing people that we get to share it with. As for me, the word “no” has a place in my life, but I think I’ve found a way to move it over to make room for a few more “yes’s”. Except in Target.