Well, we’re on the downhill side of the alphabet. Today’s A to Z Blog Challenge is reserved for the letter “N”. On this bright, sunny, but still too damn cold day, I thought I’d blog about saying no. I think as a parent I’ve said “no” a lot more than I’ve said “yes”, and the results are inevitably the same–they do what they want to do. Does this make me a failure as a parent? No. It puts me in the same class as billions of parents around the world. Let’s face it. Even God’s kids broke the rules and did exactly what He told them not to do.
It’s been my experience that children learn to say “no” well before they can even speak–the mouth that won’t open for the spoon, the toy tossed on the floor, and the endless hours of tears when they refuse to be comforted. Once they can speak, “no” comes out of their cute little mouths far more often than “yes”, so why don’t they understand what it means? As a parent, I’ve got a closet full of examples of the times I’ve said “no” or “don’t” to my children, and they went ahead and did it anyway. Invariably, they were found out and the appropriate punishment doled out, but you could bet your last dollar, the time would come when I’d say “no” and they’d do it anyway.
Unfortunately, I have to admit to being as guilty of ignoring “no” and “don’t” as most others. I think for some strange reason when our brains were wired, it was done in such a fashion that when we hear “don’t” or “no”, we immediately view it as a suggestion rather than a command or request. For example, how many times have you told yourself “don’t buy that” or “don’t eat that” and you’ve done it anyway? Yup. I hear you. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt factory.
Look at mystery and horror movies for a moment. How many movies have you seen where someone is told “Don’t…” and they do it? I’ve sat through countless movies whispering to the screen “Don’t open the door..” or some such nonsense. What happens? They open the door. They get attacked, killed, eaten, you name it. Typical!
Lately, I’ve come across a whole new cadre of disobedient characters. I want them to do this, that, and the other thing, set it up for them, and Boom! No. They want to do something else. I can hear you sniggering. You’ve met them too. So, explain to me how imaginary characters, created inside my head by me, can be as wilful and stubborn as human children? If I try to bend them to my will, I get writer’s block, or worse–a plot so full of holes it resembles Swiss cheese. If I give them their heads, and allow them to deviate from the plot, I’m looking at a different ending, one I didn’t anticipate, and another three or four days to finish the manuscript.
So, what’s my answer? You guessed it. “Go with the flow, and hope for the best” No means no, and in this case, I’m the one saying, “No, it’s okay. This time, we’ll do it your way. After all, it’s your story too.” Right?
Check out today’s other A to Z Blog Challenge entries for the letter “N”.