Learning to Say No

Here at Chez Arbo, learning to say no has become the thing du jour, both for Kale and for me.

Kale has hit the toddler ground running these days, and aside from an extremely challenging few days of total civic unrest (which, knock wood, appears to have passed today), has continued to be happy go lucky and cheerful. Except now he is quite decisive, and when faced with choices such as “Kale would you like chicken or tofu for your lunch?” the most common answer is “NO.”

Sorry, dude, that was not really a yes or no sort of question, that was a question in which you are presented with two things and you need to select one of them.

Kale, would you like to play with a puzzle or read this book? NO

Kale would you like to sit in the stroller or walk beside Mommy holding my hand? NO.

He’s kinda funny the way he says no – it’s not angrily or curtly, it’s drawn out and soft like “nuuuuuu-ohhhh”. He’s also started rolling his eyes, being sneaky, and being evasive. Yesterday, he tested my ability to follow through on a threat, when, after his third warning about running away from me at the park, he was unceremoniously scooped up and strapped into the stroller on our way home. I was kind of enjoying the park, too. But, an empty threat is permission, so I had little choice.

I’m also learning to say no.

I’ve hit a bit of a wall lately, and feel spread too thin. Maybe it’s because the market work is starting to heat up, maybe it’s because my evening data entry job feels more and more of a chore as the days get longer and I find myself missing out on sunshine filled family hours, or maybe it’s just because I keep forgetting that I work, literally, 70 hours a week, and some of those hours are overlapping in ways I dislike. Kale has thrown out a few 3 hour naps lately and also a 90 minute nap day, and I was so unbelievably exasperated that he would DARE TO AWAKEN DURING MOMMY’S OFFICE HOURS that I barked at him. It took me a few minutes to remind myself that hey, that’s just what he does. He doesn’t get the idea of “Office Hours” and so well, I just need to remind myself of that once in a while. How do women work jobs from home with kids who don’t nap? My friend Clara was telling me at the park today that her oldest doesn’t nap, and her youngest has recently started cutting naps down to 40 minutes. I’m freaking out about that – as there simply isn’t enough Kale free hours in the day for me to do my various jobs as it is.

Right now, I’m going to start saying no to social outings a bit more. I’m following through on the commitments I have as of right now, but when my schedule is:

  • Sunday – work 4-10
  • Monday – Bonnie all day, work 7-10
  • Tuesday – starting in May Bonnie will be coming all day
  • Wednesday –  work 7-10
  • Thursday – Bonnie all day, and in June will be market day, and right now I usually have a meeting of some sort for the market in the evening
  • Friday – I generally don’t schedule anything, but I do have a girls get-together once a month and it’s on Fridays
  • Saturdays – seems to be family day, or random girl party (candles, pampered chef etc)

And then throw 15-20 hours a week right now, increasing to 30 hours a week for the market, grabbed randomly whenever I can.

So, this household is a whole lotta “NO” these days.

Kale, would you like to go home? NOOoooooo
12 years ago


  1. My toddler also does the ‘no’ when presented with 2 choices thing. Tonight I was asking him which of 2 sleepers he wanted to wear, and he shook his head and walked away. Which was clearly NOT an option, at least not in my mind.

    Also, I have worked at home with a non-napping toddler, and it is not easy. It’s a lot of prioritizing and re-prioritizing and letting things go. They just need so much attention, and have no understanding of our need to work. I hope you find some way to do what you have to do, even when Kale doesn’t co-operate as you would hope.

  2. Oh, but he’s so cute! I’m always blown away at how such cute little people can be so utterly exasperating!
    And, my hats off to you, and Amber, and all the moms who manage to work from home with little ones around. On the rare occasion I try to write report cards at home on one of my days off from work, I end up resorting to the Disney method of parenting. You know, pop in a DVD and have it play in a continuous loop? They love it for obvious reasons, but I sure feel like a bad mommy when it happens (fortunately not too often!).

  3. I say “red pants or blue pants Caden?”
    Caden says “No pants today! NO PANTS TODAAAYYY!!”


  4. yeah, they do like to trick you – or try anyway. cole (turning 2 on tuesday) tries all the time. mostly it’s cute – as long as he knows i mean business, but i said once “you can’t trick mommy – i’m not dumb” so now he finds it hilarious to say that again and again. of course alternating with “no, no, no”.

    please universe, keep the naptimes going. i need them too for the work i do from home and i can’t even contemplate them ceasing to be someday. cold sweats ensue.

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