What Happened When I Said “No” To My Daughter

My daughters’ snuggles are my form of crack.

On a biochemical level, my body sinks into a deeper calm when I hold them.

And it doesn’t seem to matter that they’re at that no-man’s land between toddlerdom and teendom, where they don’t care about showers or shampoo, and have become fetid and ripe with burgeoning pools of sebaceous zit ingredients.

The maternal cells of my flesh don’t recognize these swampy stenches as a repellent, simply a new iteration of these little bodies I must defend and cherish.  

All of this to say … They can very easily make me their bitch.

Case in point.

My 11-year old daughter Clare and I are in Michael’s arts-and-crafts store buying what must be a styrofoam ball hewn from the aromatic polymer of Mt. Olympus, acrylic paint left over from Da Vinci’s palette and paint brushes made from the forelock of freaking Man O’ War (often considered America’s greatest racehorse), because the bill totals out at 60 freaking dollars as in $.

Apparently Clare’s sixth grade class is making the most expensive globes possible for science.

As Clare and I enter the the checkout line, which evilly winds through a maze of sugar and corn syrup, my daughter’s keening wails begin. And the rat-a-tat-tat of mother/daughter warfare ensues.

They have Bit O’ Honey, mom!


They have Abba Zabba bars, which hearkens back to your childhood before the invention of the internet. And cars.


They have thin coils of Bubble Yum, mom! Didn’t you win a pack of Bubble Yum for beating Todd Shermer in an arm wrestle during fifth grade recess? And all the girls chanted — ‘Shannon!’ ‘Shannon!’ You were like the Norma Rae of tomboys. 

Damn you for pandering to my unrelenting ego! But the answer is still NO!!

Pouting ensues.

Maudlin Mommy alights on my right shoulder.  

Look at your angelic daughter’s face with those still-round cheeks, she hisses. What if you have a heart attack on the spot and die and the last word your child hears issuing from your heartless mouth is ‘NO!’

Because that could totally happen!

Tough Love Mommy alights on my left shoulder.  

First you say yes to Bubble Yum, then you say yes to a flask of Thunderbird, then you’re the one cooking the heroin on a spoon for her.

It’s time to crack down now while you can still beat her in an arm wrestle (the hell with that pussy Todd Shermer).

You can no longer be her best friend. You can no longer be at the mercy of your desire to cuddle and coddle her, and cogitate on all of the ways you don’t want to be the gate keeper. It’s time to Mom-up.

It cost me a river of unshed tears and a little intestinal gas, due to withholding, but I didn’t buy Clare any candy at Michaels.

I held the fort.

What were we doing three hours later?  Why do you ask?  Ow, stop twisting my nipple! Okay, okay I’ll tell you … three hours later we were chin deep in a vat of black cherry frozen yogurt with rainbow sprinkle toppings, are you happy now?

You try saying NO to these faces.



(Okay, this was six years ago. But it’s all going by so fast! Quick, give me the hotline to the place where they sell ponies! I’ll take two!)

8 thoughts on “What Happened When I Said “No” To My Daughter”

  1. Crack indeed! Granted I have a son and a stepson, which I’m sure is totally different from girls. My son just turned 13 (eek), but he will still tolerate my hugs and kisses and caresses and actually snuggle up next to me on the couch with iPod in hand and crow proudly “Mom, mom, watch this flying tackle!” Sigh……I’ll take what I can get. But I too will get a whiff of my son’s sweaty ripeness which on any other human being (including my husband) would make me gag, and just be happy to breathe it in and kiss the top of his head. And as much as a I love my stepson, when he gets home from baseball practice those “maternal cells of my flesh” just don’t kick in, and I can’t get him in the shower fast enough. I feel like a horrible person for it sometimes, but it’s fascinating to me how our physcial bodies recognize our offspring on what must be a cellular level.

    1. I have become an inveterate sniffer of babies’ heads that didn’t emanate from my womb. I am realizing that’s a very creepy sentence.

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