Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the LORD.
I firmly believe that children need to learn the meaning of the word 'no', and I believe that the sooner they learn it, the easier it will be on them, on the family, and on the community as a whole. I believe that many parents have given up on trying to teach their children 'no' and rather go for 'no, ok?' But to be effective, 'no' can't be framed as a question. It is no because it is no. It is not 'no' only if you want to agree with me.
I also do not believe that children should be allowed to run the house. They should be taught that certain things are not ok and are off limits, especially for the youngest members of the family. Don't touch the computer, for example, or don't drink mommy's coffee Gabriel, or don't put your feet on the table at dinner time, or don't pull the cat's tail or try to take his food from his mouth while he's eating...you know, the things that not only protect the valuables in your house from being wantonly broken, but also to be sure that your children remain relatively safe in their home environment and it is an enjoyable experience for all involved.
But even though the word 'no' is used liberally around our house, I also believe that it is our duty a parents to set up areas where it's easy to follow the rules. That way, things are more evened out. You may get more 'no's' at the dinner table, for example, but the living room and your play place is pretty much free game, within reason.
Along those lines, when I see a problem area, I try to figure out if this is an area that needs a 'no' taught, or is this an area that needs to be rethought and redesigned with the kids in mind.
Our 'dining room', if you want to call it that, is actually the room that used to be the tiny kitchen before an addition was added to the house and the kitchen was moved back there. To get to this 'new' kitchen, you must walk through the 'old' kitchen. It is quite narrow and a little bit long, and has pretty narrow entrances to it on both ends. In this small small space, we have a dining table pushed up against the wall with 5 chairs and a highchair crammed around it and 3 tall bookcases. That means that if someone is sitting in a chair eating and you want to walk past them, they must push their chair all the way up to the table to their chest is touching the table so that you can get past behind their chair.
The bookcases hold most of the books that we have in our house. The reason that they are there is because there really is no other place to put them. We have a gate that we can close off so we can keep the littles either in or out of the dining room/kitchen area and away from the books. But, of course, Jesse's favorite past time is to pull all of the books off the second shelf from the bottom and watch them hit the floor. They make a wonderful slapping sound on the stone tiles we have in that room, and the pages flutter so wonderfully, it's easy to see how he just can't resist. However, as much fun as he has pulling them off, it is not fun putting them back up, and it's not even like we can leave them down for the day and just collect them once a day because if we do that, they we can't walk back and forth to the kitchen.
I decided that this was not a place where I wanted to try to teach a 'no' so Elizabeth and I decided to take all the books off that shelf and leave that shelf empty. Actually, to be honest, it was my idea and she was roped into helping.
This is what we started with (this was after they had been picked up and somewhat neatly placed back on the shelf):
...and this is what we ended up with:
There is something in front of the other shelf so that Jesse can't pull those books off right now. You see, the problem is that we have too many books! There is no way to empty those two shelves and still have all the books out.
So now I have come to a dilemma:
Do I put the extra books away to be taken back out who knows when?
Do I get rid of some of the books that we don't use as much and just figure that we can get them back out at the library if we ever want them?
Is it ethical to get rid of books?!?!?!?!?!?
It seems kind of pointless to put the books away. I mean, if they are packed away, when am I ever going to say, "Wow! We really have a lot of extra space here! Let's pull out those old books that we haven't seen in years and stack them up right here!"
But on the other hand, it's really hard to get rid of books!
It does seem more practical to have a carefully chosen library of really awesome books so that they aren't lost in the mediocre ones, I guess, it's just hard to part with books.
Does anyone out there know what I mean?