Now all I need is a mask

"Now All I Need is a Mask"

My son and I just saw Man of Steel in the theater.  I confess to getting him hooked on Marvel Super- heroes.  Now how do I get him unhooked?  

He wants to strike fear into the hearts of evil doers, everywhere.  He's begun calling himself the "Dark Destroyer" and he's nagging me for material that he can turn into a mask for himself.  That's a fortunate step down from his earlier, insistent requests for a dagger.  

I nixed the dagger.  He's only 10.  I'm one of those Mom's who's come to terms with the word "no".  

I've decided that contrary to popular opinion, the word "no" is not the root of all evil.  Saying "no" to my son when it's the appropriate answer is not going to scar his psyche.  "No, you can't leap from the couch to the rickety foot stool."  "No, you can't have dessert ten minutes before dinner", and "No you can't stay home from school just because you're bored with the class work".  

There's a lot of controversy, these days around the effects of saying "no" to our children.  The catch is that "no" is a word that they're going to hear a lot in life, and it's probably best for them to get used to it while they're young.  If we try to protect them, by never using the word, then they won't learn how to accept it gracefully.  

Sales people experience a lot of rejection during their careers as sales people.  They learn that "no" is often just an invitation to negotiate further, or to learn why their offer was rejected the first time, in order that they can make a better sounding offer the next time.  If children are well parented, they learn that "no" may not be "no" forever.  It may just mean:  Not until you're 18.  It may mean:  Once you've washed your hands, then you can come to the table and eat dinner with us. 

As a species, we are eminently adaptable.  We can even recover from the dejection of being turned down for a job or the heart-break of being told that the person that we wanted to take to the prom is going with someone else.  The catch is that we have to be allowed to experience these forms of the word "no" when we're young, or our coping mechanism may involve something akin to "going postal".  

And "no" is a really great word for kids to practice too, so don't fear those terrible twos.  Encourage them to express their honest opinions, even if that opinion is going to have to be superseded.  Some day a rambunctious peer may ask them if they want a knuckle sandwich.  At that point, they will be grateful to you for having taught them that "no" is just a word like any other, and that words can have power.  

It's an unfortunate sign of the times that a woman's "No." is often less respected than a man's "No".  Society has dis-empowered women for many centuries, in many ways, in many lands.  Many men have been raised to believe that her lips may say "no" but her eyes say yes.  

This belittling of a woman's "No" is directly related to how Mom is treated in the home.  If Mom says "No, you can't have a cookie, but then Dad says "Yes" and the child gets to have the cookie, then the child is learning that Dad's word (the word of a male) carries more weight than Mom's.  The child, will grow up to continue the cycle, which in extreme cases turns into abuse of women.  

We need to level the playing field between the two genders.  Kids need to know that they have to respect her "No" as much as they respect their Dad's "No".  They also need to learn to be grateful when they get a "Yes".  

Last week, I made two trips to the store because the first time around I got the wrong size goggles for my son.  As I was leaving to make the 2nd trip to the store and he was about to engage in camp activities, he said:  I'll just blame you.  

I wasn't about to let that slide.  I had things to do that day, I hadn't had my breakfast yet, and I was doing my best to prepare him for his swim day at camp so that he could enjoy himself, while I was working.  I scruffed him and said something to the effect that he could also thank me for making a 2nd trip to the store, especially for him, and he did, and I made that 2nd trip in a much improved state of mind, because I had said "no" to being treated like dirt for a job well done.