I only have so many no’s in me. Same way I was born with approximately one million eggs floating in my ovarian soup, my no stash is pre-determined and constantly degenerating too.
I venture to guess, in my 5.5 years of mothering two kids, I’ve used about 40,000 no’s. That’s twenty no’s per day, give or take days I’ve guzzled a margarita (less no’s) or was tap-tapped on the head mid-sleep by shuffling gnomes (double the no’s) or been made to feel especially maternally handicapped by say, missing the deadline to turn in a kid’s Superstar of the Week poster, and said kid comes home wrecked because he’ll never, ever be a superstar (I’m allowed zero no’s for approximately a week).
In which case that make-up week might go something like this:
Dots for breakfast? Absolutely. How about some Tang to go with it?
You need that piece of shit plastic missile shooter thingy? Sure. Grab another for when that one breaks into sixty choking hazards.
You want to go to a craft store to buy pom-poms and googly eyes and felt and pipe cleaners? Hop in the car!
And you want Mommy to hand-make your Valentines cards AND bake pink heart whoopie pies? Get out the pens and pans, sweetie.
Here’s the issue. I’m turning 38 next month. My eggs are dwindling down into the 100,000 to 200,000 range, so I can only imagine where my no’s might be. Surely nearing extinction, too.
First thought: I take more vacations or apply to more extracurricular programs, (for which PAL will earn double bonus sex points, which seems also to suggest I could enjoy my last hoorah of reproductivity. Two birds with one sperm. Awful, I know) and in my time away I’m spared using the “N” word. Essentially, this allows me to ration my no’s.
And since that’ll fly like a dodo bird, I must figure out a no alternative. An approach neither no nor yes, neither a threat nor a swat, but something kinder, gentler, less raging, madclown Mom. This often-overlooked approach to parenting is called: THE NATURAL CONSEQUENCE. PAL and I first heard the term years ago in a parenting class and for some reason, we’ve since forgotten about it, or frankly just found it easier to be more blustery and dictatorian, more Newt, if you will.
In Confuciusian terms, The overall philosophy of the “Natural Consequence” is: Do what you want, until the universe conspires to make you feel like a moron.
In other words, your job as a parent is to offer a thoughtful suggestion, to guide, after that, let the cards (aka: darling little pattering gnomes) fall where they may.
Let me share a few examples (some real, some yet to be used. But trust me, I’m not afraid to pull just about any Natural Consequence card):
1. KID: “Mommy I just throwed up.”
PARENT: “I told you not to eat fish food.”
2. KID: “Mommy I can’t stop shaking”
PARENT: “Maybe next time you’ll wear more than shorts to play in the snow.”
3. KID: Mommy my hair smells like sausage
PARENT: What did I say about rubbing meat in your hair?
4. KID : Ouch, ouch my hand is stinging! My hand is stinging!
PARENT: Are we going to touch a jellyfish again?
5. KID: Mommy, my feet are burning.
PARENT: That’s why we all wear shoes in hell.
Together let’s SAVE THE NO’S. Let’s be the disciples of natural consequences and teach our kids a thing or two about accountability, about dressing for the seasons, about not being morons forever.