What happened to “No”?
Posted by Beckie | Filed under Beckie
Kids say the darndest things. The “little dude” added a few extra grey hairs to my head with our recent conversation:
“Mommy, can I go to the hospital and have a blood test done?”
Me (holding back tears): “Of course not, you are healthy, you don’t need a blood test.”
Little dude starts to whine: “But Mommeeeee I want to have a new toy!”
“I’m sorry sweetie but the answer is no. You are welcome to use the money from your Spend jar to buy a toy. Let’s play tickle monster. ”
You see the “little dude” had a week long hospital stay at Sick Kids hospital last year, non life-threatening but it involved many months of weekly blood tests and occasional outpatient visits to the hospital for treatment. Our whole family was a miserable wreck, except for the “little dude”. He was actually a pillar of strength, partly due, to his deeply felt LOVE of toys. After every blood test he got to go to the toy store to pick out pretty much ANY TOY he wanted, not to mention two sets of doting and generous grandparents sending boxes filled with toys and games. We all joked about opening up a toy store in our house.
During this time, I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, my kid was going through something terrible, what parent wouldn’t empty their bank account to help relieve their child’s pain in any way they could? On the other hand, my child was becoming quite the materialistic little person. So I decided to set limits: he was allowed to choose a toy, but only under a certain dollar amount. We discussed this in advance, but he still had a tantrum when he didn’t get his way. A large part of me was crying internally, but I held my ground. Weeks later, he decided he had enough toys for the moment and a package of candy or chips became a sufficient reward. Success!
For some reason, I notice that parents these days (including me) have trouble saying “no” to children, whether it is in response to requests for “stuff” or just in general. When I was growing up, I recall my mom saying “no” frequently to my numerous demands. Yet I witness this modern phenomenon on an almost daily basis while working at a public library. Small kids will often start to scream bloody murder and many parents just ignore their inappropriate behaviour. After a few minutes, when my colleagues or I eventually go over to nicely ask the parent to take their child out of the library and come back after the child has calmed down, we usually get one of the following responses: 1) nasty looks 2) parents who say “yeah yeah” but do nothing 3) possibly called some “choice” names directly to our faces or muttered loudly on the way out.
Personally, I will continue on the bumpy path less travelled and stand firm on setting limits where warranted. In doing so, I *will* disappoint the “little dude” often in his frequent requests for more toys, candy, treats and so on. At times, my kids won’t be happy with me, and that’s okay. I’m doing the best that I can as a parent, and that’s all anyone can ever do.