Eliza learned to say “no” yesterday. It was actually quite cute; she wasn’t saying no to something we wanted her to do. She has been repeating words and sounds that she hears us say, and, at that one point yesterday, “no” was the choice to repeat.
She didn’t say it once, or even twice. It was more of a “no…no…no…no…no…NO…no…no….” We chuckled together as she practiced holding her mouth to pronounce it clearly.
“No” can be cute.
To be honest, Eliza was able to tell us “no” even before she she could say “no.” Several weeks ago, as I was getting ready to count her piggies (tickle her toes), she got a really serious look on her face and shook her head. This meant, I understood, that she didn’t want to play piggies at the moment.
Suddenly I recalled that there were times when, as a child, I didn’t feel like being tickled or having some other cute “look at the little kid” thing played at my expense. There are times when Eliza enjoys these games, so I decided to respect her wished at the times she doesn’t.
Eliza learned “no,” and her own ability to say (or choose) it. There are times, of course, when she will say no that she doesn’t get her way. There are times when I’d like to say no, but I’ve learned that I don’t always get that choice.
In learning to respect Eliza’s “noes,” I couldn’t help but wonder if some of the challenges our kids face when they are teens are short-circuited if we don’t respect their “noes” when they are younger. This is just one aspect of giving children a voice, but it could be an important one.
I don’t know how much difference it will make for Eliza when she reaches adolescence. Check back with me in about 12 years.