Sunday, January 18, 2009

'No' means 'no'


I try to be a “good” parent. You know, the kind of parent that commands some respect. ‘No’ means ‘no.’ I do not allow my children to “talk back” to me. (Well, at least, so my personal dogma states). They must use proper manners. I try. They perform quite well when the need arises, so I have to assume they have figured out the difference between what I do and what I actually mean.

Which is probably how children become good negotiators.

On Saturday morning I attended a very watered down version of a “boot camp” class. A friend convinced me to go. Since the instructor talked most of the time, I knew I wouldn’t be sore. I realized Sunday that if I sat down I would never get up. Fortunately, I don’t sit down much, but I did a lot of pained limping. (My husband is still injured.)

At 7pm, I could no longer avoid shoveling the driveway. I limped into my boots.

“Mommy! I’ll go out with you!”

“No, Gladys, its dark.”

“Please! I’ll stay right where you are.”

“No, Gladys, its really, really cold Sweetie, and dark. Stay in.”

“Please!”

I went out. See, I thought: ‘no’ means ‘no’.

I saw Gladys jumping up and down in the window of our front door. “Thump. Thump.” She kept hitting the door.

I waved. “Thump. Thump.”

A moment passed and then I saw her head pop up above the window and stay there.

Okay, she got a stool. She can watch. Perfect.

She waved. I waved. She tried to get my attention. Then, again she disappeared. (I would find out later that she took her case to her father. She was busy negotiating.)

I saw her head pop out again. Once more it disappeared, and then the door opened.

“Mommy! It will go MUCH faster if you let me help.”

Those are my words. “Honey, it will go much faster if you just let me help.” Those are Mommy’s very frustrated words that come tumbling out when I just don’t have the patience to watch my small children struggle with what ought to be simple tasks. They aren’t simple to them, of course, but to watch them learn can occasionally cause my reserves of patience to empty and my eyes begin to cross.

That is exactly what I say. That is exactly my tone of voice. She knew the right button.

“Alright, Gladys.” I lean my shovel against the garage, and go in to see if she needs help getting ready.

She shoveled a lot of snow for someone who weighs barely 40lbs. We talked most of the time. I thanked her. Towards the end of the driveway, she paused.

“You know, Mommy, I really came out here because you shouldn’t be out here all by yourself.”

Cunning. Empathetic. Caring. Girls shouldn’t be too obedient anyhow.

Wasn’t this about ‘no’ meaning ‘no’?

5 comments:

Flea said...

This was about you being a good mom. :) And Gladys being a good daughter.

splodge said...

Aw that's so cute! I'll bet that difficult task was made more pleasant with Gladys for company.

Laura said...

The instinctive NO. I, too, am learning that negotiators should get some fruits for their labors. My younger daughter now cooks and bakes, we both know that my NO is a pretense for her to explain to me why YES. Glad your daughter is learning to be wise.

Im2Sexy4MyVan said...

AWWWwww.. That is the most compassionate story. She is certainly a chip off the old block. And you an awesome mother.

Badass Geek said...

What a thoughtful kid.