“Mammy said ‘No’!”

25 Sep

My mother used to always say this to the little turtle. About such mad things as cola, biscuits, and tea. Of course Mammy said no, but it used to p*ss me off royally to hear this, well catchphrase, being bandied around the house all day every day. Mammy was a big mean so and so, but Granny would happily hand out treats and whatnot if only Mammy would let her. I tried explaining it to her, but got “You’ll have to say “No” to him sometime, you know.” And I did know. As a matter of fact I have no real problem with the word “No”. I think the human race would not have survived without it. It obviously has a place. It’s just not appropriate to tell a six-month old “No cola, Mammy said.” Then there’s the whole “No, don’t touch that”; “No, you’ll break that”;”No, no, no, no, no!” Some children must think that their names are “No!”

So I try not to say the word “No”. Or “Don’t”. Or “STOP”. All that negativity can’t be healthy, can it? At the same time, if it were appropriate (if he was hurting someone or in danger), of course I’d say it. As I also have a slight aversion to the whole airy fairy “Our hands are for kindness” school of thought, I kind of have to use it. In fact, if you ask the little turtle what Mammy says about posting things into the potty or the toilet he’ll say “Mamama ah-ah!” (Ah-ah being No). He has to have some boundaries, but they have to be age-appropriate and not just based on Mammy’s whims.

I think I’m winning. Without me ever having to resort to shouting “Noooo!” at the top of my lungs, or having to go into a big long explanation about how “we” don’t do such and such. I do explain things. But not to death. And I hope I’m giving him the scope to be the great person I know he’ll be without stifling him.

Real discipline is not about getting a child to do as he is told, to go to bed at a certain time or to put his toys away. It is about helping him to grow up independently, with a respect for others and control over his own destiny. It is about getting him to care enough about himself so that he can develop self-control.

Montessori Play And Learn, Lesley Britton (p.26)

Mammy may well say “No” from time to time. Mammy is human. As is the little turtle. As long as he has the freedom to grow, I think we’ll be okay.

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