All the Times I Said 'No' to My 4-Year-Old Today

No, I will not paint your nails right before you eat popcorn. That is just pointless.
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I used to be a "Yes" mom.

Yes, you can jump off the swing. Yes, you can squirt shaving cream in the bath and pretend it's snow. Yes, you may perform opera in the supermarket.


But now I have two kids. A little one who's up all night and a bigger one who is a bottomless pit of need. Factor in sleep deprivation, constant nursing, juggling two wildy different schedules and my general irritation, and it seems I have turned into a grumpy old "No" mom.

No, you can't carry the baby.

No, you can't stick your finger in her mouth.

No, do not use her body as a drum.

No sneezing on the baby! For Chrissake. No.

No, I'm not going to unlock your car window so you can open and close it 30 times.

No, you can't eat all of my ice cream and your ice cream, too.

No, you cannot share my water while you have green snot.

No, I will not be making jelly sandwiches for all your meals. (Thanks a lot, Bread and Jam for Frances.)

No nudity on our front steps.

No picking the neighbor's flowers. Fine, one. I said one!

No, I will not paint your nails right before you eat popcorn. That is just pointless.

No more "Bubble Guppies" today. Or maybe ever.

I told you no video unless you cleaned up your toys.

Hiding all your dress-up clothes under a blanket does not count as cleaning up, no.

No, don't stick your nose in my bum crack.

No, the people in Target do not need to see my underwear.

Nope, stop it, my nipple is not a toy.

No, I am not going to leave you in the car while I go into the house, as tempting as that sounds.

No, my checkbook is not for coloring.

No, Barbie can't wear my good jewelry.

Nooooooo why is the magazine I just started reading ripped into 10,000 pieces? Did I say you could make a collage with Vanity Fair? No, I did not.

No matter how many times you ask me, you cannot carry the baby up the stairs. No.


Sometimes the kid gives me no choice, but I don't like how I sound. And I don't want to crush every last one of her dreams just because I'm too tired and cranky to reframe the request into a suitable alternative. I wish I could change the conversation so I can be that "Yes" mom once again. In my fantasy, it goes like this:

Mommy, can I sit here and color while you stare into space?


Can I be the doctor and you be my patient and I examine you while you lie down?


Do you love me even when I drive you crazy?


This post first appeared on Carriage Before Marriage.

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