The Tale of Mrs. No

On Sunday, Mothers Day, I did something awesome- I walked down the street to the supermarket all alone.  Just me and my reusable shopping bag in the sunshine to pick up 1 single item.  Heavenly.

I normally shop pushing a double stroller or pulling a wagon, and I load the food on top of and under the boys and then squeeze into the only checkout line that fits us. Freebie post partum weight loss tip– 2 kids + double stroller + heavy groceries like a watermelon and a gallon of milk = great workout.
Some days it’s fun; some days Jack runs his kid-sized shopping cart into my ankles.

Next to the registers there are rows of DVDs at kid eye level; brightly colored boxes with Diego and Thomas on them.  Well played, A&P.

Mrs. No is behind me in line and has 2 enormous potted flowers in her hands.  In my imagination, the poor lady is probably steamed already because it’s 2pm on Mothers Day and her spouse was like “oh, btw can you get a present for my Mom, too?” Her shopping companion is 3 feet tall and clutching a Diego video.  “Mom?” he asks with a grin shaking it from side to side.  “No.”  Then for the next 3 minutes, with no further peep out of the boy, the woman says No about 20 times with escalating intensity and no eye contact.
She could have said a million things that may have affirmed their relationship AND got him to put the DVD back.  What a missed opportunity.

That’s the whole story.  I was finished paying so I left.  I can only assume that they checked out with 2 orchids and 0 Diego videos.

I live happily in a bubble of like minded families, so I don’t hear 20 “Nos,” ever. Maybe it’s common? When I was a newbie, seasoned Mamas from LLL and an online parenting group shared stories of Gentle Discipline.  I was so psyched and surprised that you could parent without spending your days saying No.  I devoured the excellent How To Talk So Kids Will Listen long before Jack’s first words.

Nos have their place and trust me, there are limits galore in this house.   But I‘ve always liked Martha Sears’s idea of saving “No” for special situations–a toddler hand approaching a hot stove, for example– so that it is both rare and taken seriously. I love the challenge of finding alternatives to “No” that are respectful and/or silly.  Sometimes in the instance of a child wanting something that they’re not going to get, a simple “yeah that stinks” can go a long way.

Next time “No” is on the tip of your tongue, consider this: Can you think of any instance in your life where hearing “No” doesn’t totally suck?  Pitching an idea at work? Inviting a friend out for drinks? Making a pass at your husband? We know as grown ups that the thoughtful thing to do is let people down easy, soften the blow.  Children deserve that, too.

Rebecca is Mom to 2 butt-kicking,  limit-testing little boys.  She only likes hearing “No” when the question is “Does this nursing tank make me look fat?”


Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!


4 thoughts on “The Tale of Mrs. No

  1. Your post has been on my mind since I read it yesterday…it’s so true! I haven’t read How To Talk So Kids Will Listen, but definitely want to now. Thanks!

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