No offense, but no. No no no no no.

038

That’s a for sure no.

Wee Cee is going. She’s on the move. She’s pulling up and ingesting various objects and yelling and screaming and crawling away from us at a wicked pace when we try to collect her to change her diaper. Now that she’s hit nine months, we’re actually using that little strap on her changing table because I guess it’s not there for decoration. It took her tumbling off the table once (and I caught her, thank my stars) for me to realize this. Honestly, people. I’m a parent.

We impose limits. No, C. Stop, C. Quiet, C. Shhhhhhhh, C. I think the most emblematic aspect of our relationship is that whenever I bring my index finger to my lips and blow “shhhhhhh”, she cracks up. It’s comic gold. Silly Mommy. Babies are for yelling screeching.

She does not like no. It makes her cry to hear us say it, so I’ve been trying to remember to say “stop” instead since it’s less negative and oppressive and indicates that there are many, many alternatives to playing in the garbage and ripping my glasses off my face for the billionth time. When we remember to say stop and immediately offer her something else to do, we avoid conflict and she doesn’t get riled up. Stop is more constructive.

I’ve been parenting her since the moment I shoved her out at the hospital, but all of a sudden I am Parenting-Parenting her. I am having to reconcile my personality with hers and make decisions on the best way to tackle obstacles that arise in her exploration of the world. For the first time, I’m acutely aware that she has feelings and desires apart from Hungry-Sad and Song-Happy, and I want to respond to them lovingly and constructively. Before you have a baby, you have a vivid concept of how you want to raise her. You think that since you are cognizant of what makes a good parent, you will obviously be one. Once she comes, though, the amount of strategizing involved in being that parent and giving her every single opportunity to flourish and grow is staggering. You have to turn that “no” right back around on yourself when you’re at your breaking point and want to throw her out the window for flipping over one too many times when you’re changing her diaper.

Just like her, though, stop works for me a lot better. Just stop. I take a breath and realize I’m a human. Be patient and realize that just because I said no does not make me Hitler, and remember that whatever she just did to make me say it does not make her rotten. We’re both growing so frequent Stop Breaks are loving and necessary for us to both be our best.

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50 comments

  1. Does anyone like hearing no? And saying no may not make you Hitler but it make C grow up to become just like him. Parenting sounds hard. You’re doing a good job thus far. She’ll get used to no and in the end she may appreciate yes.

    1. There you go again, being all wise.

  2. I love what you say about all the ideas you have about parenting before you actually become a parent. The actual doing (as opposed to theorizing) changes everything. In that respect I was lucky, because for me, “parenting” (being the full-time caregiver to a baby I loved as my own, and still do 13 years later) happened when I was entrusted with a fully-formed kidlet I had spent exactly zero hours preparing for or thinking about (in a practical sense). I was just handed a baby and a huge amount of trust, and I honestly feel like Babygirl (who, now that she has turned 13, I really need to find a new pseudonym for) taught me how to parent her. And she did a damn fine job, too.

    And I think you are being both intelligent and intuitive with C. You are also allowing her to teach you how to parent (saying “stop” instead of “no”, for example). It sounds kind of strange, saying that you should let your child teach you, and obviously I don’t mean letting her get away with everything carte blanche. But paying attention and allowing her to guide the way you implement the decisions that you as parents make — ultimately, I think that’s really what “good parenting” is all about.

    1. I know exactly what you mean about taking the cues from your kids. No one ever learned anything by being told flat-out what to do; if anything, that kind of dictatorial parenting seems like it would the children underprepared for life as well as resentful of their lack of control.

      Thank you so much for your comment! I love this blog because of people like you who leave such thoughtful thinks from their minds! ;D

  3. Don’t forget to put the remote up high out of reach!

    1. Haha I know! She already has her own remote that doesn’t go to anything!

  4. A gripping life · · Reply

    Emily, Emily, Emily…. You are an AMAZING mother. You were born to raise little hearts and minds. What Ruby Tuesday wrote is so true. Our children do as much of the teaching and guiding that we, as mothers, do. While you’re figuring out little Cee’s personality, etc. She’s figuring out yours. (I imagine she already knows that she has the best mom on the planet and has hit the parental lottery mother-lode!)
    Lily was not so squirmy, luckily. I think my face was so crazy animated that I put her into a hypnotic baby trance. lol!

    1. We really are figuring out each other. Over the last couple of days, she has gotten so nimble in her crawling that she has discovered how fun it is for us to chase her. She’ll get on all fours and then glance back at us with a little smirk on her face to get us to go after her. And then she’ll squeal with delight when we make like we’re going to tickle her. It is pretty much the best EVER!

  5. Once I had children, I found there to be a huge gap between my imaginary parenting and my actual parenting. On the plus side, having children has mellowed me a good deal. It made me realize I don’t, and shouldn’t, have control over every little thing.

    1. So true. I never should have had a lot of control to begin with, so parenting has made me a lot more realistic about what I’m capable of.

  6. There are new and more difficult challenges with each age they get to, but they are well-balanecd with even bigger joys and exciting developments. Hang in there.

    1. It really puts those sleepless nights at the very beginning in perspective.

  7. Again, Emily, such wise words. We certainly do have ideas pre-parenting of how we will deal with things and these are all taxed, tested, and mostly thrown away once we are confronted with reality. “Stop” is a good one. (For myself, more than the kids…)

    1. I love looking back at all that I said I’d do or never do before I had her. It gives me a good laugh.

  8. “No” is a tough one! And it’s true, no one really likes hearing no. I *try* to reserve “no” for those times when an explanation is not allowed in that instant, like running into the street or climbing on some unstable something-or-other. Make it an absolute non-negotiable and not something that is spoken so often that it loses its meaning, you know? “You can’t ___, but you can ___” has also helped us a lot. Offering those alternatives rather than just allowing Doodle to make another choice that may land him in the “knock it off!” boat again.

    Sounds like you’re a fantastic mama though, really. Often times it seems like some of the best parents are the ones who are actively aware of just how wrong they’re doing it and actually seeking out new methods. :)

    1. I really, really like your usage of “no”. That’s how I want to use it too; to reserve it for those moments when it’s truly non-negotiable. That way she will be able to move within strict boundaries while still feeling like she can exert some control over her choices.

  9. Sounds like you’ve taken a good step back and thought about what’s best for C and for you. That’s amazing. I wouldn’t have even thought about the difference between ‘no’ and ‘stop’. So you’re doing something right fo sho. You are a great mom, Emily. You never have to worry about that!

    1. I never thought about the difference either until another mom brought it up in the comments like 100 years ago. For all the crazies in the world, the Internet has a couple of good parents.

  10. twindaddy · · Reply

    It’s funny how much an infant can teach you.

    1. Since you had two, you must be the smartest person ever.

      1. twindaddy · · Reply

        Oh, I’m on my third…who will turn 2 in 11 days.

        1. That explains the Yoda-Speak ;)

          1. twindaddy · · Reply

            Wise beyond my years, I am.

  11. Btwn toddlers and kittens, I think I wanted to name them both “Stop that” for a year or so :)

    1. HAhahaha! I don’t know how you held on to your sanity!

  12. It only gets better, and by that I mean worse. My son watches Elmo so therefore every shade in our house gets beaten around while he looks for Mr. Noodle.

    1. OMG Mr. Noodle! I love how now that I’m a parent I know who that is.

  13. I have a new niece (which is NOT the same as being a mom, I know) but she’s just a cute little person right now that cries and poops and eats. She’s starting to smile and pretty soon she’s going to let us know who she is. That’s so exciting. I’m going to show this post to her mom, because saying “stop” is such a better way to redirect focus. Thanks, Emily!

    1. Thank YOU, Rachel! Once they start smiling, the fun really begins!

  14. Ah, now the good stuff begins. Teaching your child what they can and cannot do, what they can and cannot say, oh the good times have just begun.
    Let me know when you have the conversation about why you cannot touch other peoples butts.

    1. Trust me, you will be hearing all about it when we get to that point. So much joy to come.

  15. Yes. that’s all the wisdom I have right now. Just, yes. Oh, and you’re a good mom.

    1. You are so sweet. And a good mom, too.

  16. No is our friend. Today was our first venture back to Sunday School after the little dictator had blackballed our entire family out of the Nice Church in town following a 45 minute tantrum on the floor of said Nice Church’s nursery. Result today? Made it through 95% of the service until the pager went off. Go back to the nursery: “Mommy!!! The yaydee said ‘NO’ to meeee!” The sooner Miss C can learn no, the better off y’all will be. Thanks for a timely and validating post!

    1. HAhahaha I love how you call it the Nice Church. Also, yaydees are so dictatorial. This is a fact.

      1. I know you know what I mean on the church thang :D They’re all nice, but…some are more tolerant of tykes refusing to come out from under the table to string Fruit Loops, than others! Sheesh…yaydees…can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em.

  17. It’s funny how much children can teach us. I say that like I’ve already had some. *scoff* I’m a mere child, myself! I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore. It’s getting late.

    1. It’s OK. I barely know what I’m talking about too. I’m still surprised they let me take the baby home from the hospital.

      1. They probably just thought you were deliriously happy or something. Which I’m sure you were :)

  18. Oh the crying when you tell them no! Does she arch her back Nd s ream? That is a fun little trick that they develop around the nine month mark.

    1. Oh yes. It’s tons of fun. Wait until you see my post tomorrow.

  19. I love breaks but I hate hearing “no”!
    I loved this post, though!

    1. No is definitely not too fun. Except when it’s the answer to the question “Do I have to go to the dentist today?”

  20. I remember crying to my sister that if I could just get my newborn to master sleeping then I’d be in the clear. She (with her older kids) laughed and laughed and laughed, reminding me that if it’s not one life change it’s another. I think that’s the key to parenting, just keeping your cool as cool as you can muster. Also I need to take my own advice as we are in the throes of potty training. I think my face has been a furious shade of red for about a week :)

    1. What you say is so true. I remember thinking during the first months of her life when we weren’t sleeping at all that if we could just fast-forward then we’d be all good. And although it’s true that life is far less difficult when you’re well-rested, things were a lot simpler back then. I guess you just have to experience all that hardships that come with age to appreciate the next hurdle. Hope the potty training is almost done!

  21. I love this food for thought. I can only draw from my years as a babysitter, and even then words would fly out of my mouth that my parents said to me that I never wanted to say to kids….it’s amazing how easily our history and what we’re used to can just take over.

    1. You have no idea how amazingly true what you just said is. All the things our parents did that we say we will never do are almost the first things that fly out of our mouths. It’s kind of a sick joke.

  22. I’ve started involuntarily saying “no, ma’am” to Sonia, which…I don’t even know. Seriously, how Texan is that?

  23. Good point. And I always think, when I see friends who are parents and are worried about the times they have to reprimand their children, I have no memory of being told off. Not really. I know I was. And I have one memory of my mother telling me she’d have to tell my dad when he came home from work, that I had been naughty that day, and me being like, “Please don’t tell him!” But overall, I don’t remember individual tellings-off. But I do, as an adult now, know the difference between right and wrong. I know how to treat people in a manner I consider respectful. I know about politeness and saying sorry and please and thank you. So I know I was disciplined when needed. So in some small way, I guess that’s a comfort. Saying No and Stop is not going to traumatise your child, she’ll have forgotten it in an hour. But what she’ll remember is how to behave well.

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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