It started out as a joke. To me. Kind of sick and disturbing in a way, but I was dealing with siblings on a lack of sleep, and I grew up with a family that cracks jokes, even at the worst times, about the worst subjects because if you don’t laugh, evil wins.
“No means no.”
No means no, Tornado E. Tornado S doesn’t want you in his bed. “No” doesn’t mean “convince me.” “No” doesn’t mean to wheel and deal. “No” doesn’t mean to try again later. No means no.
No means no, Tornado S. Tornado E does not want to share his toy. “No” doesn’t mean try and take it from me. “No” doesn’t mean “try harder.” “No” doesn’t mean he wants you to hit him.
No means no, boys. The little girl doesn’t want to play Star Wars with you. “No” doesn’t mean you force her. “No” doesn’t mean you keep bugging her. She wants to play with her doll in the sand, so play her game or leave.
Then Friday I read this post. Then I realized, even if I was just doing it to entertain myself as I separated the boys from the constant battle of home domination, I was teaching them a valuable life lesson. No means no. It’s a basically lesson that there are boundaries people put up and we have to respect them.
You don’t get to convince your friend to ride with a drunk driver. You don’t get to harass your friend because he won’t do something insanely stupid like jump at Seven Falls. You don’t get to call your friend a wuss because he doesn’t want to drink, smoke pot, or shop lift. And you don’t let anyone push someone around who said no. And you, my boys, get to say no, too.
You don’t get to “charm” a girl when she says no. You don’t get to convince her or try harder or keep asking. You don’t get to blackmail her with “if you loved me” and “it’s been x dates” and “but I paid.” You don’t get to lie to her or con her or threaten her with innocent threats. You don’t get to ply her with drink after drink until she says yes. And you don’t let other boys do the same. And you, my boys, get to say no, too.
Somehow I have to help my boys develop a moral code that they will stick to and fight for. Somehow I have to teach them to respect other’s moral code when it doesn’t hurt other people. It seems like a tough task.
But then the other night when Tornado E went to kiss his girlfriend goodbye, she yelled, “TORNADO E! NO! You’re sick! (as in he had a cold)” Tornado E stopped and said, “Oh, right! Bye, K!” Well, it’s a start.