Tag Archives: playdate

No Means No

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Kids have all the time in the world to keep asking you something even when you’ve already said NO. When I’m busy or tired, I often have far less resources -time, energy, patience, diligence- than my kids, so they’ve figured out that pestering can sometimes work. When they really want something, their enthusiasm and excitement for immediate gratification can eclipse my voice. So, saying NO and meaning it is a message I am always working on with my kids. Adding in a firm NO in American Sign Language gives my verbal answers a big visual punch to let my kids know I mean business.

My kids are 4 years apart, so when my son came along, I already had a very sign-savvy preschooler to help me teach signs to her baby brother. We started right away, and she loved signing our beginner signs like MILK and BATH and ALL DONE. My son is now 8, and the ASL signs I find myself using with him and his sister are more command-oriented since they are fully functioning people in the world: STOP, YES, NO, WAIT, NO, PLEASE, THANK YOU, NO… (did I already mention NO?).

No means No.

The other day after school at the playground, I noticed my son, Ian, and his friend were having a wild wood chip fight, scooping up piles of wood chips from the ground and throwing them at each other. They were smiling and giggling and having a blast, and neither boy seemed to consider what I saw to be massively dangerous, but I knew their fun could change quickly and I called his name. He was too far away for me to yell out a full command, so I just signed NO when he looked at me. He knew we already had a strict rule about not throwing wood chips but had forgotten in that moment of fun.

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Of course, right then as Ian looked to face me, his friend tossed a huge bunch of wood chips right at him, and my son quickly bent down for ammunition to retaliate. I called his name again and signed NO once more as he held an armful of wood chips, ready to fly. My face meant business and he saw that. My hand was also speaking loud and clear, backing up my voice and my face. So he dropped the pile of wood chips and stepped away, but I could tell he was very annoyed at losing not one but two wood chip battles that day -with me and his friend.

It all ended there and I didn’t need to explain myself or talk to him. I signed GO PLAY, and he ran off with his pal to the monkey bars. I felt relieved that I could shut down the wood chip fight without embarrassing either of us, or his friend, with just a call of his name and one ASL sign.

No means no (unless you say yes).

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Cloudy Day Playdate

I’m not the only one thinking about good old fashioned free play and unscheduled activities for our kids, this summer, and I loved reading about Peekaboo Beans’s Pop Up Playdates currently happening in my Vancouver. They are organizing outdoor playdates at local parks and playgrounds and inviting families to come out and PLAY! Fantastic idea.

Speaking of playdates, this week my family invited my Very Inspiring Friend and her kids over for a playdate on very a cloudy summer morning. Our 5 kids together all range in age from 6-11 years, have known each other since birth and all get along really well, but we live about 30kms away from each other, so our visits are never frequent enough. The kids immediately scurried off to begin playing and the moms hunkered down in the kitchen to drink some much-needed caffeine. We shared stories of the summer as small boys dressed as superheroes/ninja’s crept by us under the table, styrofoam nerf pellets soared past the kitchen door, and teeny, tiny pocket doll outfits pleaded for our mom-hands to help them get even tinier dresses on over the disproportionately large doll heads interrupted us sporadically, but for the most part, the playdate was fairly quiet and relaxing for all of us. We ate some lunch, and the kids went outside to paint some rocks. The moms wandered into the living room (which, incidentally, is a designated no-toy room in my house -every other room in the house ends up hosting toys at some point, but I try to keep one oasis in the house), and we were enjoying the quiet beauty of a tidy room when the 2 big girls walked in looking for us. They had finished their rock painting and didn’t know what to do next, and being 11 meant that they were kind of interested in what we grownups were talking about, so they quietly slid into the living room and sat down with us. Then the boys came in too, because they heard that the girls were in there, and before we knew it, all 5 kids were in the living room looking at us moms.

So, usually I implore my kids to go play and leave the adults alone during playdates, but suddenly a spontaneous game of Froggy Murder started (Froggy Murder is a circle game where one person is a silent “murderer” who looks at the other people in the circle and surreptitiously sticks his tongue out at them to “kill” them. Another person standing in the middle of the circle is the “detective” who tries to watch and guess who is murdering the other frogs. You might remember another version of this game called “Wink Murder”). My son loves these circle games he learned to play at school, but which never work at home because there’s usually only 4 of us. But 5 kids & 2 adults can totally play circle Froggy Murder, and we ended up remembering a few more games of the same ilk. We were playing together for over an hour before it became time for them to go home. The guessing games were definitely an unexpected highlight on a dull, cloudy day. Both myself and my Very Inspiring Friend enjoyed the game-playing, and we realized that our kids are reaching a lovely stage in their lives -able to play with their friends without much interference or refereeing, and also super fun to play with all together as a family of all ages.

Given that I’ve dedicated this summer to thinking up good old fashioned activities to occupy our days and nights for a less-structured summer, I honestly don’t think it would have occurred to me to try that kind of game-playing otherwise, so I’m glad a spontaneous froggy murder suggestion came out and got us started. I guess just being open to unscheduled fun allowed for it to unfold that way. My Very Inspiring Friend continues to inspire me, and I’ll be adding that to my summer bucket list under “Cloudy Day Activities”.

What games do you play as a family? Did you play together while you were growing up?