“No-No” is a four letter word

It is interesting to me that Asher has learned all the things the kitties aren’t supposed to do, but refuses to learn what is off limits to him. Each time Meelah jumps on the counter or Miles starts to chew on our ficus tree, Asher will stand and face them defiantly screaming, “Da Da Da Da Ditty!” at the top of his lungs while shaking his finger at them forcefully. If, perhaps I haven’t noticed what the cat is doing, Asher will scream at me until he has my attention, and then point to the cat and watch with an evil pleasure while the kitty gets disciplined. (Hmmmm…is this what it will be like when he has siblings, I wonder?)

As much as Asher enjoys hearing me tell the kitties, “no-no”, when that dreaded word is aimed at him, I can visibly see the tug-of-war going on in his mind. He will stand by our bookshelves, knowing Mommy & Daddy’s books are off limits, and touch their spines tenously, turning every now and then to see if I am watching. If he notices that I have seen him, he will pull his hand away, cock his head, look at the books and pronounce a loud “Oh!” as if to say, “What are you doing there? Aren’t you interesting to look at?”

If he thinks I haven’t seen him touch the books, he will actually pull a book half off the shelf, then pause to look at me again. By that point, I have definitely noticed, and will remind him that it is off limits by telling him, “No.” He often smiles and bounces up and down, all the while keeping his hand on the book. It’s almost like he is asking himself which is worse?…putting the book back? or facing mommy’s “no-no”? The hesitation warns me of the coming storm, for it is only when he turns from the bookshelves right away that I know he is going to listen to me. Instead, he continues to inch the book out of its place on the shelf all the while watching me to see what I’m doing.

When there is movement on my part, then it is time for action on his as well. He will frantically try to push the book in its spot, so that when I reach him it is all back to normal, and he will look at me as if to say, “What’s wrong here? I don’t see anything wrong here.” Usually, Asher’s fool-proof plan backfires, because as he tries to shove the book back, it will inevitably not fit and will fall into his hands where he will drop it like a hot potato and look at me with wary eyes. By this point I have reached him, put the book back into its place and picked him up…pointing to the books with a firm, “No-No! Those books are a no-no to Asher!”

Then the tears begin…actually, the wails begin. I have found that a simple “no” does not move Asher’s heart, “no-no” will make him stop and rethink his actions, but a “no-no” coupled with his name is tragic. He will bury his head into my shoulder and weep like his world has just ended. After minutes of this, he will sit up as I say, “Look at Mommy.” We look at each other, and I tell him I love him and he gives me a kiss. The tears immediately stop, his radiant smile returns, and he will begin alternately pointing to my eyes, nose and mouth to see what they are.

I must admit there are days where I feel like I have said “no-no” more than the rest of my words combined, and I wonder if it is any use. Besides the books, Asher loves the cats’ food and water, he loves to open anything that’s not battened down, he loves to turn off the computer right in the middle of something important that you’re doing, he loves to put food in his hair as much as he loves to eat it, he loves the trash can, and I could fill pages with other “fun” things that Asher loves. What’s hard is that he is just so proud of himself when he does something, that it is almost as heartbreaking for me to tell him “no-no” as it is for him to hear it. In Asher’s dictionary, “no-no” is definitely a four-letter-word. To top off my week, if this journal entry seems disjointed, it is because in the process of writing it, I have had to stop several times to administer more “no-no’s”….Asher has put his juice cup in the cats’ water bowl, eaten some cat food, knocked over our halogen lamp in the living room, and just generally gotten into things.

But Asher’s life is not all “no-no’s”…I have also had to pause in my writing to put the clothes into the dryer, a task with which Asher loves to help. I will hand him an article of clothing, and he will throw it into the dryer and laugh with delight. (I also happened to find a toothbrush holder in the dryer–wonder how it got there?) Then in the middle of my last paragraph, My Fair Lady’s “I Could Have Danced All Night” started to play, so we naturally had to stop to dance together. Dancing is one of Asher’s favorite pastimes. This is truly what must be meant when motherhood is called a joy, where all the “no-no’s” have been forgotten as Asher lays his head on my shoulder for as many songs as I can dance to without becoming too exhausted.

I know that each and every moment with Asher is worthwhile, whether it is time playing or time teaching. I also know that there must be time for both in our lives…I am still learning each day as well, and there are days when my “no-no’s” turn to tears as I fail Brian, or Asher, or a friend or a parent. I also know that behind every “no-no” is a heart that loves me, forgives me and helps me to learn what is best, and one day Asher will understand all this, and “no-no’s” will leave the realm of four-letter-words and enter a whole different realm in his life. Until then, I will just keep teaching him and loving him, so if you will pardon me, another one of our favorite songs just came on, and my boy and I have some dancing to do!

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