Apparently, it's also easy to sign once you've learned the manual alphabet. N-O. Two letters. If you attended public school during the 80s or 90s, you probably sat on the hard, cold floor of the multi-purpose room at least once a year and were taught to "Just Say No". Why then, all these years later, is it so hard to just say no?
Surely I'm not the only person who has a hard time saying the "n" word, though my kids don't seem to have a hard time saying it (or signing it). Sometimes, of course, no is an appropriate and necessary response. If it's a matter of safety, sanity, sensibility or more sugar, one must use the word "no".
When I was a naive and idealistic young mom, I purposely removed the word no from my vocabulary. I thought if my children weren't exposed to the word no, perhaps they wouldn't use the word so much. The last thing I wanted was my toddler screaming NO. So I went about finding other words and phrases that meant essentially the same thing as no. It resulted in a lot of superfluous words, and ultimately a waste of time. The word no crept into our vocabulary and is used when necessary.
The real challenge is saying no to a question, request, or invitation that you know will zap your spirit, waste your time, or put a burden on your family. Such as, "Are you interested in watching my baby full time?", or "Would you like to co-chair a committee?", or "Would you make a slipcover for my couch?" (Thank goodness my mother-in-law didn't say no to that last question because I love my slipcover). These are activities that would put me over the edge, and my family would bear the brunt of my fall.
Other times it's simple, less involved activities that you must turn down, such as going to a second party in one weekend or playing with a friend when down time is what your kids really need. And sometimes, it's saying no to yourself when you attempt one more project, squeeze one more activity into a busy day, or give up an addiction (it's been one week without coffee - yay!).
I have learned how to say no, but only after saying yes too many times. The next step is to say no without apology, guilt or fear of disappointing others. For now, I just take it one nay at a time.