Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Irony of NO

Yesterday I discovered that my daughter is a lot like a grown man.  Sometimes, you have to let her think something was her idea, for her to think it's a good idea.

Just because mommy says so is not good enough.

Maraea is deep in the throes of the "NO!" stage.  Though if I'm honest, it's not always "NO!"  Sometimes it's more like "No."  Other times, it's more like "no."  And then others, it can be more like "No?"  If you've ever been a mother to a toddler, you know what I'm talking about.  Knowing the different "No's" is a lot like knowing the different cries.

You can't really ask a NoNo Toddler a question, because the answer will always be "no".  They don't really know how to say "yes" yet, though they may know how to nod their heads, but as is true in Maraea's case, she's been shaking her head "no" much longer than she's been nodding her head "yes".  So Aaron and I have really been trying to not ask her so many questions, and instead let her know how it's going to be.  You wanna take a bath?  What's that?  No?  Well too bad.  We shouldn't even really be asking her in the first place, because she doesn't have a choice -- she's stinky and will get a bath whether she wants to or not (and chances are, she'll enjoy it anyway).

Part of the frustration for both parents and child is that the child can't verbalize what they want or need just yet.  So the parents hear a lot of whining, and then try to figure out what the child needs by offering.... You hungry?  Want a snack?  Want some juice?  Is your diaper dirty?  Wanna go night-night?  ...but the answers to all questions are always NO -- even if the real answer is actually YES.  Sometimes being a parent requires that you see through the NO to the real YES that lies beyond.

Yesterday Maraea and I were driving along and she was whining, so I offered her juice ("no!"), a toy ("nooo!"), and her binky ("no!").  So I said "I'm sorry baby, I just don't have anything else right now, we'll be home in a little bit."  Then, in her perfect little baby girl voice, I hear her say:


Oh, did you want your binky?  You know, just because mommy offered it, doesn't mean it was good enough.

"Hahahha.... GEENKYYYYY!"

I hand her binky back to her and she lets out a relief-filled laugh, sticks it in her mouth, and she is once again happy.

But the irony of the word NO is this.  She knows enough to use it in the proper sense for the most part -- when she doesn't want something or doesn't want to do something, she simply says "No".  Listening to the word "No" is another story though.  She has a clear enough understanding of how to use it, but not a clear enough understanding of how to abide by it.

Because when mommy says No, it just isn't good enough.

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