The House of No

Milestones. Just when I noticed that I hadn’t written a milestones post in awhile about C, she delivers the goods. I am happy to report that she is on track to becoming a functional human being. I am not so happy to report that in this process to big-kiddom, my death grip on sanity is loosening a little bit more. That’s OK, though. I never really liked control, sleeping, and not crying anyway.

C reached an important milestone last week. She learned to say no. And not only did she learn to say it, the true weight and power of the word was also miraculously imbued to her. The Grand Toddler Gatekeeper felt she had sufficiently proved her mettle, and after long last, that diaper-clad guru recognizable by the permanent smear of ketchup across his knee gifted her with an amulet (mashed Oreo with a few hairs in it) that gives C the ability to veto every reasonable request I make.

So far, she thinks it’s a truly wonderful word that should be said liberally, especially when the notion of riding in the stroller or having her diaper changed are suggested. Why lower oneself to the abasement of newborns and infants who are too dumb to know that graham crackers are in the cabinet and can (theoretically) be eaten for all meals, when you could just as easily notify your parents that you would rather not eat the healthier but likely poisonous fare they set before you? No is a fantastic word for this and many other inconvenient situations I force Wee Cee in.

There are very few scenarios where No isn’t invited.

• Snacktime: If C asks for a snack and I give her a banana, which she ordinary loves, she says no because she prefers the sugar-frosted butter sculptures of cats that we saw once at a playdate never ago.

• Toothbrushing Time: As a year-and-a-half-year-old, C knows many things. She knows that outside is better than inside and that socks are evil foot encasements. She also knows that toothpaste is delicious and should be eaten directly from the tube. When I suggest otherwise, she patiently lets me know that I am wrong.

• Screen Time: If she requests to see Elmo or Murray from Sesame Street on YouTube and I manage to find the one clip that makes you watch the full thirty second ad prior to viewing the clip, then it’s the end of the world as we know it and we don’t feel fine.

Getting Dressed Time: There are ample reasons to say no to this obviously oppressive part of the day, but the primary one is that in our negligence as parents, B and I have failed to create a wardrobe for C that is comprised entirely of Elmo t-shirts.


While No is a welcomed visitor for all these everyday situations, its versatility is truly showcased when matters of logic are involved. For instance, everyone knows going outside is wonderful, C especially. But often she prefers the indoor version of outside. She will request to go outside and we’ll put on shoes, jackets, etc., and then once it’s time to go, No and its closest confidante Tears will emerge. We will then have a picnic in the walk-in shower for thirty minutes.

No is even better as the holidays and other milestones approach. We have been priming her for potty training for a couple months now, talking about the finite nature of diapers and the joy of eventually going in the toilet. We even introduced the concept of Santa to her by telling her that he will likely (totally) be bringing her a potty for Christmas. Given how we’ve married the concepts of Santa and going to the bathroom, she probably thinks that he’s some kind of magical sanitation worker. But now that Event Potty is approaching, she will have nothing to do with having her diaper changed. Whenever we deign to request that she lie down while we change her, nos are coupled with flailing and kicking and the patented toddler Body Lock™. If we want to add fuel to the fire, all we have to do is put a cloth diaper on her instead of a disposable. C has decided that she is wary of her parents’ frugal, Earth-conscious ways, and would rather eat nails than be changed into anything other than her overnight disposables.

I think the saddest part of the whole scenario is that when she says no, she does so with the exact same intonation and discontent I use when I say it to her 800 times a day. This is the world’s way of punishing me for discouraging my child’s proclivity towards tasting dishwasher detergent.

So that’s C’s latest milestone. I know better than to ask you to tell me it gets better. I hear no enough everyday from my own child that I don’t also need to see it in the comments of my blog.

Perfection Pending


  1. I wish No was still as much a part of my life, especially with regard to working, plucking my crazy eyebrows, leaving the house when I don’t feel like it, and seeing Thor with my boyfriend because he relented and saw Free Birds with me. I miss the power of No.

    1. All the more reason you should consider having your own child. You get to say it a lot. It’s totes funsies.

  2. Ok, it doesn’t get better. It gets worse. At 13, “No” started being accompanied by “Fuck you.” Now, it’s “I’m an adult. You can’t tell me what to do.” I wisely don’t point out that “you can’t tell me what to do” was something he said when he was four. It was accompanied by “You’re not the boss of me.”

    BTW, when you get tired of saying “No”, say “Stop.” I was told not to use “No” by my husband’s dear friend the Child Psychologist and Director of a School for Boys Who Used to Say “You’re not the boss of me” And Grew Up to Say “No. Fuck you.” It was a nice dinner for me. But, he was right about “stop.” Useful when kids think the little blue berries on the nightshade vine are blueberries.

    1. I really need to work on saying “stop” more. It’s so much more effective, and it makes a lot of sense that you want to reserve “no” for situations where safety and mandates are involved. Plus, stop is a harder word for her to replicate.

      1. Never thought about how they can’t really say stop at that age. Once, my nephew was picking on his cousin and my mom told him to stop. He said, “NO!” and went on picking on the poor girl. My mom reprimanded him again and he wheeled around and shook his finger saying, “I telled you NO, Grandma!” So, more to look forward to. He was three.

  3. Oh my gosh, adorable. Zach and I saw this little girl out raking the sidewalk with her Dad over the weekend and looked JUST like this. It may have made my uterus hurt for a few seconds…

    1. Ha! I love catching her doing little chores like that. It gives me hope that she’ll continue doing it when she’s older.

  4. Hahaha cute. Learning to say “no” is a valuable lesson that we still need to remember as adults ;)

    1. Agreed! I need to learn to say no to peanut butter.

  5. Ah yes, always fun when they discover the power of ‘no.’ Of course, my sons also learned the power of ‘time-out,’ and suddenly saying ‘no’ and refusing to do something didn’t seem so much fun to them anymore. ;)

    1. She is very quickly learning the power of time out too. This weekend she took her very first unaccompanied time out. Baby steps. Baby steps ;D

      1. Haha, I bet she was none too pleased. :)

  6. Sweetness!
    Do I want one ?


    1. I’ve always held that my blog serves as excellent birth control.

  7. There is nothing worse than having your own exasperated demeanor reflected back to you in pint sized form. Just wait until she masters the odd curse word that slips out. Generally in front of your inlaws.

    1. My mom has already admonished her (and me) over Skype when I laughed at C for acting up. I can’t imagine why she thinks she can get away with her behavior.

  8. LOL I like your way of writing this post was hilarious.

    My biggest laugh came from this, “She also knows that toothpaste is delicious and should be eaten directly from the tube. When I suggest otherwise, she patiently lets me know that I am wrong.”

    Thanks for the good read. ~~ Mark

    1. Thank you for reading, Mark! I’m glad you enjoyed ;D

  9. Do you have the “Like” button turned off? I wasn’t able to click it. Your site and four other ones I visited recently – other sites were fine.

    1. Hmmmm, I think something must be wonky with WordPress. I will look into it.

  10. My favorite age for my kids was 2-3 when they perceived me as Zeus! I was all powerful and could do no wrong. Having me blow on their bellies was the greatest joy in life……and then kindergarten came……’s no accident that “no” is understood by babies in 5 trillion languages across the universe!….oh and I work for that company that makes that soap you’re using – please keep it out of C’s reach!

    1. C LOVES getting belly raspberries too! And I love doing them because that little laugh that results is absolutely infectious. I will be sad when she’s too big to have ticklefests with me anymore.

  11. Really, it gets better by about 4 years old. Yes, its gets worse gain in the teen and early 20 years, but at least they don’t need a diaper change and can throw up without help from you. I know thie because my 23 year old has the stomach flu right now and other than me havingto provide 7-Up and Jello, she is a self sufficient barfer. Really an improvement over toddlerhood!

    1. “She really is a sufficient barfer”. That really gave me a giggle ;D I hope she feels better soon! You have earned your stripes, Kim! I salute you!

  12. I would say CeCe has you almost totally bent to your will. And as my father used to say, rightfully so. Soon you will abandon all attempts to put shoes on her except for the Elmo boots she prefers. And clothes? Way too much trouble. Graham crackers at every meal? Sounds like some good roughage to me, not that she ever needs her pants changed. Crossing over to your child’s point of view – I think they call it the Stockholm Syndrome?

    1. This is the best comment that anyone has ever left on my blog. Parenthood *is* a bit like Stockholm Syndrome, isn’t it?

      1. Yes. I still suffer from it, if you haven’t noticed.

  13. I kid you not. My little guy just learned to say no yesterday. The part that is hard for me is that he says no even when he means yes. So, it is actually not a helpful word at all in our house. I really enjoyed the image of a picnic in your walk in shower! Sounds fun! :)
    Thanks for linking up with me.

    1. My pleasure linking up with you! C is really, um, hitting her stride as a toddler now, so I can already tell you that I will be linking up quite a bit with you. We must commiserate.

      1. For sure!! My 3rd is proving to be the most strong-willed of them all!

  14. unfetteredbs · · Reply

    I’m sorry that I laughed all the way through this. But I did so with fondness…

    1. That’s OK. Your laughs counteract my child’s anger ;D

  15. Teresa Pate · · Reply

    That’s why SHE needs Grammy. Grammy is learning to say no, occasionally.

    1. It’s a lifelong process to learn to say no. We could all learn a little from C.

  16. My youngest answers every single event with NO. He’s 3. It’s time for a bath and it comes out like it is some Battle cry, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

    1. Ha! It is kind of like a battle cry. And aptly, I often cry when I hear it.

      1. Yes. It is strange because he says it even if it is his favorite in the world. Do you want to watch Spider-Man? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

  17. It does get better at around 4, per my nephew’s example – however, that’s when they learn trickery. Instead of “no” we get “I have a VERY BAD STOMACHACHE so we have to LEAVE NOW” and we leave the play we’ve carefully chosen to take him to as his first theatrical experience and he says, “Now we can get ice cream, right?” and when we mention the phantom stomachache he says, “Oh! That’s better now!”

    However, I love him so darn much I just find everything he does amazing. I’m pretty sure he could shank a kid on the playground and I’d be like “THAT WAS SOME GOOD SHANKING, KIDDO! GUYS! THAT’S MY NEPHEW! THE SHANKER! I’M SO PROUD!”

    Got me wrapped around his little finger, that kid.

    1. Isn’t that just the way it is? Some days are truly grueling. Like yesterday, for instance. Lots and lots and LOTS of nos accompanied with lots of crying. Then today at storytime at the library, she glanced back at me during one of the stories, got up, and came and gave me a random hug and kiss. I died.

  18. First of all, here’s to free child labor! Secondly, I think my C is maybe 3 or 4 months ahead of your C. And I have nothing encouraging to say to you. Well.. she does say yes now, too. At least we’ve added the positive counterpart to her lexicon. She doesn’t say it nearly as much as she says no, but it exists.

    1. Amen to the free child labor! We still have a ways to go until she can make me an omelet, but I’ll cut her a little slack since she’s only 1.5. I do, however, want waffles on Christmas morning. I think she can swing that.

  19. Hmm, unfortunately I still cannot “Like” this post and I really want to! I hope you get it fixed, it’s not clickable and it says “Loading…” next to the button. No amount of clear cache or page refreshes restore the button for me.

    As I said in my previous reply, most blogs work for me though I have come across about five others like yours where the button wasn’t clickable for them either.

    1. Well, drat! That’s OK, though, Mark, because comments really do mean more to me than Likes. I appreciate that you left one! Thank you for following too!

      1. You’re welcome. I just wanted to press the darn button so that it would get added to my blog’s “Posts I Enjoyed Reading” (widget)

      2. Are you sure you have it turned on in the settings? I don’t know about you but I also don’t see icons for other people who may have liked the post.

        1. Hmmm, I’m pretty sure they’re turned on. I’ve never had any trouble with them before. Occasionally WordPress has minor snafus and I am willing to bet this is one of them.

  20. You had me laughing before I got past the title, Ms. Em! But the funny part was, I was assuming before I read, that YOU were the one telling her “no,” no the other way around. All Freudian projection aside, I’m glad to hear that she is developing very normally, on track, and that she owns the market on ‘no’ instead of you. You’ll want to save yours for her adolescence.

    1. Well, to be fair, I DO tell her no a lot. Like, a whole lot. I really should try yes on for size, if for no other reason than her surprised face is super cute.

      1. Or you can do the old child therapy trick, reframe everything so it sounds like a ‘yes’ when it’s really a no, like giving them 2 acceptable choices that don’t include the unacceptable choice they propose. :D

  21. Haha. I so remember those days. One or the other of you will get over it soon.

    1. I am holding you to that ;)

  22. Is it safe to assume from the picture you posted that C’s holding the magic talking stick and saying her new favorite word?

    1. It is very safe to assume that. She’s also probably directing me to get her an animal cracker.

  23. nehajayaram · · Reply

    You are hilarious.
    I wonder how much I troubled my Mom.
    Honestly, I wonder why she loves me somedays.

    1. Ha! Thanks. That’s the funny things about moms; we most love the people who scorn us the most (our kids.)

  24. […] remember when she learned to say no. My hair has turned 700 shades of gray since […]

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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