A Day Full of No

I know that I’m a permissive parent. I don’t care about “nursing manners”. I think kids should be free to bang on tables and run around restaurants. I think it’s best to be liberal with the ice cream.

Every now and then it flits through my mind that maybe I’m too permissive.

But then I listen to Dylan’s day with an ear towards “no”, and this is what I hear:

  • No, you can’t climb on that chair. Or that chair. Or that one.
  • No, you can’t touch the stove. Or the oven.
  • No, you can’t touch that cabinet.
  • No, you can’t open the freezer.
  • No, you can’t grab that marker.
  • No, I’m not going to give you my drink.

And that’s just the kitchen. Just during breakfast. As for the rest of the day…

  • No, you can’t climb on that table.
  • No, you can’t grab the stuff on that shelf.
  • No, you can’t go into the bathroom. Or that one. Or if you’re in there with me, no, you can’t grab the toilet paper. Or that magazine.
  • No, you can’t pull down that curtain.
  • No, you can’t have anything on that desk.
  • No, you can’t get out of the carseat right now. Or now. Or now.
  • No, you can’t take off your diaper.
  • No, you can’t climb the diaper table.
  • No, you can’t touch the cat.

And that’s the inside. When we’re outside, there’s even more.

  • No, you can’t go in that part of the barn.
  • No, you can’t touch that fence. Or that one. Or that one.
  • No, you can’t open that bin.
  • No, you can’t play in the ducks’ water.
  • No, you can’t eat that off the ground.
  • No, you don’t get a say about when we go in or out.
  • No, I won’t put you down, or No, I can’t pick you up.

The life of a small child can seem overrun with barriers and boundaries every step of the way. When I worry that I’m too permissive, all I have to do is listen. If you really pay attention to a day in the life of a child it’s hard to honestly think that more restriction is warranted.

When I really listen to Dylan’s day, to his life, I become even more committed to finding as many ways to say yes as I possibly can.

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