That is from the Bible, y’all. Proverbs 12:1 to be specific. I must tell you, I don’t think I have ever met a kid who would admit to loving discipline. But, I also never met a kid who wanted to be classified as stupid. Could we say then that kids don’t always know what is best? I think so. And that is precisely why they need parents. Parents are willing to say no.
No one likes to hear ‘no’. What I did not completely realize before I became a mom is – saying no is not much fun either.When I was growing up, I can remember two verbal reminders that were repeated at least twice a week. From my mom: “Act like a lady.” I was never very good at that. (snort!) From dad: “Act as pretty as you look.” (That one might be open to debate, but I liked my dad’s better.)
With Julia, there is no real catch-all phrase, except maybe, “Save the drama for your mama”… but why would I say THAT? The “trouble” with Julia is, she is too blasted creative. So, I have to say things that most parents would not say, like, “No, you may not use food coloring in the ice trays.” Because she is never at a loss for ideas, there are days when I feel I must constantly correct / say no = disappoint her.
Yesterday was one of those days.
I saw the razor and shaving cream before I got to the check-out line. Thankfully. “What is this?” I asked her, upon the discovery. “I want to start shaving my legs”, she said very nonchalantly. “My friend shaves hers”, she added, mistakenly thinking that would add weight to her pseudo-request.
“Absolutely not”, I retorted, while quickly imagining eleven morbid possible scenarios revolving around Julia handling a razor. “You are too young.”
She is, right? I don’t remember shaving my legs until much later…at least one more year. I think.
I smoothed out the rough edges of my answer with an additional, “it won’t be long” and “be happy you don’t have to do that yet!” She was disappointed, but we returned the items and finished our shopping without any more on the subject.
In the car, she asked to call a boy from her class last year. This poor boy has received multiple phone messages from her over the past six weeks, and to no avail. As of today, he has not called back. Mind you, he told her on the last day of school to call him – and gave her his number. But, he has not been impressed by her uncanny ability to follow through…and follow through…and follow through…
“Absolutely not”, I said. Then I added, “you may not call him again until he calls you back. You are phone stalking.”
“Fine!” she said. “I will just delete his number!” Her finger hesitated a moment over the delete button, I suppose thinking I would cry out in desperation, “No! Don’t delete it!” Hardy-har-har. “Good idea”, I said.
She wanted to “invent” something in the kitchen with food coloring. Nope.
Her friend invited her to go see the Katy Perry movie. I read the parent review. Double nope.
She asked to walk her friend down to the corner of our street and back. Finally! Something I could agree to! We live on a very busy street, but I allowed it, on the grounds that she go straight down and back. This should have been a direct path, one that would allow me to see her at any point in the journey.
Imagine my surprise when, after a few minutes, she emerged from the side of our house, after walking around the entire block. Now, this may not sound like a big deal to many of you. But, we are all too aware of the dangers that are in the world, particularly to pretty, already-somewhat-flirty, ten-year-old girls. We could have easily just let it slide. After all, she did go “down and back (home)”. But, we had been clear. And as we told her, if we had needed to look for her, we would not have known she might be on a different street. One day she will be driving a car (good Lord!) and we need to know that she can stick to a specific directive without deviation.
We met her at the door with…more correction.
As I tucked her in that night, I felt very aware of the amount of “no’s” that the day had held.
“Daddy and I have a very important job, J. And that is to protect you – protect your body and protect your mind. And we are going to do that. You may feel like you need to be mad about that. And that is OK. But, we are going to do our job. Because that is what God expects us to do.”
“We really love you”, I added.
Even in the dark, I could see her smile.
“I know you do, mom.”
And so tomorrow, we do it all again.