The art of saying ‘no’ … have you mastered it? #TiWiWF

On November 4, 2011 by Aimee

I have three kids, as anyone who knows me, knows. I have in fact mastered the art of saying ‘no’. I can say it in my sleep. I can say it when totally distracted by everything else around me. Let me give you an example.

It’s 6:30 pm … just before dinner.
Kid #3: “Mom? Can I have a piece of candy from the candy bowl?”
Me: No.
Kid #3: “Mom? Please? Can I just have one piece of candy?”
Me: No.
Kid #3: “Mom—?”
Me: No.

And during this time, I’m either on my treadmill, with my laptop, reading or even working. So all the while, I’m typing or thinking or … something … and possess the ability to take in information, process it and respond.

Okay, I admit, sometimes, the processing part is either a little slow or not altogether there and my kids ask me a question that I probably should answer ‘yes’ to, but after so many years, the ‘no’ is downright automatic.

I use it a fair bit on my husband, too. 🙂 Then again, he has mastered the art of ‘no’ himself.

So when does it not happen? When can someone catch me and I will say yes?

It seems that occurs only with people I don’t see on a regular basis. With people who I interact with only on the Internet. Since I work from home and my team is remote, I say ‘yes’ to them a LOT. Since many of my writer-friends are only on Facebook or Twitter, I say yes to them a lot.

Why the difference?

First off, with work, my job is to say yes. It’s to focus. With my friends, I want to help them in whatever they’re doing because I don’t get to spend much time with them.

But with my family?

They are always around.


And when I say ‘always’, I mean allllllllllllllways. (Yes, I realize they are supposed to be, but my kids have been off school for 2 weeks, so they get the extra ‘alllllllllllways’ designation). 🙂

So what happens?

They get my ‘no’. They get the, “Mom’s in her zone; leave her alone.” face. They bug me only when I’m right in the middle of something and not paying strict attention to everything that’s going on around me. The other difference is that every question comes with a more high pitched, more definitive whine.

Yes, you heard it. And you know it.

Let’s recap:
It’s 6:30 pm … just before dinner.
Kid #3: “Mom? Can I have a piece of candy from the candy bowl?” <-- comes in a normal, but nasally whine. Me: No. Kid #3: "Mom? Please? Can I just have one piece of candy?" <-- comes with a huff of air and a high pitch. Me: No. Kid #3: "Mom—?" <-- starts OFF high and goes higher. Me: No. You see, it's not about the words. They could ask me if the sky was blue at a time where it was and I'd probably answer 'no' only because they'd ask it with such a Janice-from-Friends whine that my automatic reaction will be 'no' the moment they get the words out. Now if they sent me an email, I'd probably focus on it and read it. And answer. And if my 7 y.o.s knew this, that's probably exactly what they'd do. It's all about the tone they use to begin with. I mean, hey ... if they started like this? I'd probably answer right away.

Or maybe not. But it would be a whole lot better then the whine.

This is why I write fiction. None of the characters whine. None of them have any problem saying ‘yes’. Though me being me, I make it awfully difficult FOR them to say ‘yes’. I really should be more like my characters, but then again, that would mean fiction and real life collided and that’s just not right! I need my fantasy life where I’m the perfect Mom and wife and workerbee.

But I’m not. I’m just me.

And luckily for me, my kids still seem to like me.

Is ‘no’ an oft-used word in your vocabulary? Got any ways to combat it? Share in the comments!

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