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Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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Parenting made simple: Just Say No

I don't know why this straightforward approach to parenting never occurred to me before.

Maybe it's because we're often blind to the most obvious solutions to our problems. Maybe it's because I've heard my own children say "no" so many times throughout their toddler years, I assumed they had it legally trademarked. Maybe it's because it just seemed too easy to possibly have a chance of working.

Luckily, there are people out there in the world who care enough about my children's welfare to give me unsolicited parental coaching on the fly, when I (stupidly) thought I was out in public just minding my own business.


A while back, I was carrying my then-22-month-old baby through a store and stopped to peruse the card section. Apparently babies find greeting cards even more dull than most adults do, and before long Madeline was chanting, "Bee? Bees? Bees! BEEEEEES!" (her way of saying, "Hand over those delicious food bags, woman!") and yanking on the neck of my shirt.

Now, I'd heard the siren song of my daughter calling out wistfully to my/her beloved breasts roughly eleventythousand times per day ever since she could talk, so I rarely took heed - especially when I knew she was just bored, and especially especially since I was sort of passively trying to wean her. Likewise with the shirt tugging; unless an unexpected cool breeze told me my chestular area was suddenly public, it elicited little more than an absentminded swat.

Enter Random Helpful Lady, with her random helpfulness.

"Oh, your daughter's still nursing" she said (I'm going to omit punctuation here, because I couldn't tell if it was a question or a statement). I responded with a noncommittal smile that I hoped said, "Mmmmhmmphhh" while also adequately expressing my heartfelt desire for her to go the hell away.

She was undeterred - such was her determination to be randomly helpful.

"You know, she's looking to you for guidance." I raised a disinterested eyebrow. Randomly Helpful continued, "She would probably stop begging to nurse like that if you told her 'no.'"

**record scratch**

Now, I hate to point this out (no I don't), but I didn't notice any kids with her. Granted, that doesn't mean she wasn't a mother. Her kids were probably busy in the Mensa Think Tank solving the riddles of the universe thanks to her above average parenting, instead of suffering from a debilitating nipple addiction like my own hapless offspring.

But after the authorities had pulled me off of her twitching, semi-conscious body, I determined that maybe Randomly Helpful was right - I've been making parenthood way too hard all these years. Surely the kids would listen and immediately change their behavior if I'd just say No once, right? I began to fantasize about all the ways No could revolutionize parenting.
  • Potty training made simple. "No baby, you don't use diapers anymore. Just stop peeing on the floor. And bring me a beer." Done.
  • Behavior modification made simple. Kids fighting over who got to pick the last box of cereal at the grocery? Bouncing from mattress to mattress at Sears? Screaming at the top of their lungs while clinging to the coin-operated spaceship in front of Target as you attempt to drag them by the ankle out to the car? One simple "No" should be all they need to remember that a Mommy who gets embarrassed in public is a Mommy who signs her kids up for community service, cleaning up the monkey exhibit at the zoo.
  • Social lives made simple. Eliminate the need to purchase toys for classmates' birthdays, shuttle kids to playdates on the weekends, or discuss pros and cons of getting the kids their own phones - all with the simple phrase, "No, you may not have any friends."
  • Time management made simple. Save massive amounts of time by not having to repeat myself. Just cutting out the phrase, "No, we're not stopping at McDonald's" alone will probably free up so much parenting energy I'll have them ready to move out of the house by age 4. Mensa Think Tank, here we come!
  • Me-Time made simple: Hours alone in the bathroom for cruising Pinterest on my phone:
"Mommy? Are you in there?" "Umm... no."
  • Sharing made simple: More for me!
"Is there anything for dessert?" "No." "But, aren't those cookies you're eating right now?" "No." "Well, can I at least lick the crumbs off your fingers?" "No." 
  • Germ control made simple: Here's one I'd like to only have to say once, and have it stick: "No, you can't have your birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese." BOOM!

Thanks for the advice, Randomly Helpful Lady! This is gonna be great.

While we're on the subject of nursing and all that, check out the folks at International Breast Milk Project - they're doing good stuff: Our vision is that every infant in the world have access to donor human milk as a first choice when a mother’s own milk is not available. We aim to create awareness for the need for donor human milk, mobilize donors, and provide donor milk to infants in need.
International Breast Milk Project


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33 comments:

  1. I remember before I had kids when I would see a mom with her disobedient kids and think, "Just say no, lady." Ahahahahahahahahahahahaha! That came back to bite me in the butt, obviously.

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  2. Oh, the "helpful" comments...gah! Thank you for posting this, Robyn!

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  3. Strangers are soooo smart!

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  4. Haha, Lori! "Strangers are so smart!" pretty much sums up every non-parent's advice about how to care for someone else's kids. One day, I leaned over to pick up my daughter in the doctor's office waiting room, while carrying too many bags, purse, etc., after a particularly stressful few days of caring for my sick kid, juggling work hours, you know the drill, and a woman told me, "Do you know that you just hit your daughter in the face with your bag!??"

    "Oh, you mean this cushiony soft bag that has only diapers in it? Better check her for a concussion. Just FYI: kids on the other side of the world are being shot at. Kids in our hometown are being beaten by their parents. I accidentally bumped into my kid with the equivalent of a pillow. Shut up!" (happy sigh)

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  5. O.M.G. Why did I not think of that??? Tomorrow, when Sweets tries to bring Lamby with her for the car ride to school, I am just going to say "no" and that will be that! I can picture it now....
    Wait...I am trying to picture a peaceful ride to school, talking about the things she is going to do, who she is going to play with, singing along to the radio....but all I am getting is this blurry vision of feet in the air, hands pounding the floor, screams filling the air....there must be something wrong....

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  6. My kids are 50, 52 & 54 years old. They don't breastfeed any more. At least my daughter doesn't--I'm not sure about the boys!!

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  7. Christian at PCPPPAugust 5, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    I fell into a Mensa Think Tank once. Almost drowned.

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  8. You need this kids shirt I saw once; it said: My Mommy Doesn't Need Your Advice.
    yep, walk on lady, just Walk On.

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  9. Haha, love it. I hate those random helpful people. Usually old ladies. It is my life goal NOT to be one of them.

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  10. SocialButterflyMomAugust 6, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    Did you ask her to write down this gem, in case you ever forgot her wise words?

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  11. Kathy at kissing the frogAugust 7, 2013 at 12:11 AM

    Just stop peeing on the floor. And bring me a beer. Genius.

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  12. It always does, doesn't it? I'm always sorry later when I think I know something.

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  13. That's why I love them so much! Oh no wait, the opposite of that.

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  14. The problem is, you're picturing reality. For the vision to work, you have to imagine alternate reality crazy-time.

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  15. I wish I'd been there to chuck a leaky sippy cup at her head - it made for a funny story, though! :D

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  16. Perfect! I hate confrontation, but I could totally get up in somebody's grill via my kids' wardrobe. I'm not even kidding.

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  17. I'm not going to be one, unless I'm getting together with my old lady friends and we do it just to mess with the new moms - I could see doing that for entertainment. Wait, maybe that's what they're up to!

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  18. I should have, but I was distracted by trying to dislodge my rolled eyes from my brain stem.

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  19. As long as you're dreaming, why stop with just the potty training?!? I'm a parenting visionary - or a parenting disaster. Probably the latter.

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  20. I find that "no" works perfectly..the 7 millionth time! My MIL is full of little gems like that. I already feel like an inadequate parent. Thanks for the snarky icing.

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  21. You're right, "no" does work as long as you're willing to go hoarse screaming it at the top if your lungs. Maybe you should try that tactic with your MIL. ;)

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  22. Three words. I.love.you.

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  23. Yay! Then I might need you to be a character witness in my trial - I really did consider knocking that lady out. ;)

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  24. Particularly like: "No, you may not have any friends." I wish I had known how simple this parenting this was.

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  25. Yup, it turns out we've just been over-complicating things. What a bunch of idiots we are!

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  26. Gotta love those people who offer up advice that you haven't asked for! It's amazing how many people think they have the answers to everything in life. Just ask them.

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  27. Right??? Or don't ask them and just stand near them accidentally. ;)

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  28. It never ceases to amaze me that strangers think they have some inherent right to speak their mind about how others are living their lives. Just incredible.

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  29. Agreed! I just don't understand it - I'm way too busy trying to make my own life look remotely pulled together, I don't get what kind of people have time to try to do that for *other* people.

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