April 9, 2012

No means NO.

Last week, we got the dreaded phone call from the high school. Our fifteen year old daughter had been in an accident.

Seems she was just on her way to class, when a friend approached her in the hall.


He went to pick her up. She said "No".


But he continued.......and lost his balance.


She landed on her head, twisting her neck. He then fell backwards onto her.


Our daughter said she remembered saying "no" and then finding herself on the floor, unable to stand. She couldn't remember how she got there. We took her straight to hospital. Luckily, she "only" had a mild concussion and a wrenched neck. But she had to miss school and man, was she pissed about that!



It could have been so much worse...

My intention here is not to demonize the friend; he's genuinely sorry. But I'd like to use this story to open up a discussion about boundaries, respect for personal space, and the meaning of the word "no". When a person says "no" why doesn't it matter? No means NO.

Have you had an experience where your personal space was not respected?

I drew this one on the go, in Paper, on my iPad.

27 comments:

  1. Glad to hear she's alright (relatively speaking). We've gotten our share of calls from school about our kids being injured (from febrile seizures to slipping on a wet restroom floor and splitting a chin on the toilet). Sadly, thanks to our little one, we've had MORE than our fair share of head injuries too. (I swear the little guy is seeing how many it takes before daddy has a heart attack.)

    Hope she's feeling better soon. Oh, and if some guy ever tries that on her again, tell her she has permission to elbow him in the head or knee him in "some other place" (whichever is most convenient/will cause the most pain).

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  2. This post, while written because of a tragic incident, is fantastic. Spreading this message from school to school should be a priority.

    While I'm sure you're not going to be suing the schools for millions, I think there should be some ramifications. Maybe they should start a campaign of "no means no" or "respect your peers' wishes?" Or at least hire on a professional wrestler to help teach your daughter (and others) how to properly take a fall without getting hurt? (I kid, I kid...)

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    1. Brandon, you made me smile with that last sentence.

      But I agree, the message is an important one and schools could make use of it. With the underlying message of respect for others, it also shows (with pictures) how simple goofing around could ruin someone's day/week/year/LIFE. Who wants to live with that?

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  3. I agree - No should mean no, regardless of the situation.

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    1. Yes, it should. I'd venture to say that even before someone lays hands on another, there should be a question of whether or not it's appropriate.

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  4. Scary. So glad to hear that she's okay. I hope this taught her friend the importance of the word "no," even though he surely meant no harm. No means no, no matter what the context is in which it's said.

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    1. I'm sure no harm was intended; possibly just adolescent impulse control.

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  5. Ahhhhh Im glad she is okay :)

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  6. How scary!

    I can't help but imagine that, if her injuries had been less severe, might the guy have blamed her for the fall? Whether or not that particular young man would have, you know that guys who would are out there. "If you had just played along everything would have been fine." "You're just lucky I didn't get hurt, we've got a big game on Friday." It's still all too common to blame the one who said no in the first place. In my opinion, we can't possibly do "too much" to educate our kids about respecting boundaries, and taking responsibility for that.

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    1. It didn't happen that way in this case (as far as I have been told). But I can imagine it happening the way you describe in other cases.

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  7. It's tough for teenagers with impulse control issues to think of the possible consequences of "horseplay." I think most of them get the more serious "no means no" message, but when they're just goofing around, it's hard to imagine that they can do permanent damage. I think we spend a lot of time as parents trying to get our kids to consider the consequences. But we may also be giving kids mixed messages in interpersonal relations with play fighting/wrestling that goes on between friends, siblings, parents, etc. It's a fine line to draw - my husband picks me up/tackles me/tickles me a lot. He's just fooling around - and it's always funny until someone loses an eye, right?

    How do you prevent harm from coming to your kids without being a humorless killjoy? That is the question...

    Anyway, glad your girl is OK.

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    1. That's a very thoughtful point. It's true that kids mostly do get the serious message of respect. But impulse control tends to evaporate, especially when there's loads of others watching, in this case other students/friends in the hall.

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  8. I was really, REALLY hesitant to read this post. Between the "No means no" title and how my Google reader shows only the first two lines of a post, I was really afraid of where this post was going. I'm so sorry your daughter got hurt, but I'm also very relieved that it wasn't what it seemed.
    I agree completely- there needs to be some discussion about personal space and what not. Everyone is different- for example, I'm a hugger, but I know many people aren't, so I wait until the other person hugs me- but even with familiarity and/or perfectly innocent intentions, there needs to be a line drawn.

    Very, VERY relieved your daughter wasn't more seriously hurt.
    --Johann

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    1. I'm sorry if I scared you. I wanted the reader to experience the story the same way I did. Hearing my daughter babbling incoherently on the other end of the phone, unable to make a sentence scared the bejeezus out of me.

      I think it's great that you're sensitive about other people's huggability. I wonder if I could create a personal space guide....like a poster or something, for teachers to put up in the class.

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    2. I would totally endorse that. I'd even talk with my kids' principals and try to get it into their schools. If you do something like that, do keep me [us] posted.

      --Johann

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  9. WOW. Really glad she wasn't hurt more. Very important message. I've been thinking about a boundary issue I had about a month ago--I had just arrived to a party/fundraiser at a nightclub, was hot from walking, and a woman in the restroom line with me insisted on putting ice from her drink onto my head for cooling. I was finally able to get her answer that No, there was no sugar in the drink [I was concerned about stickiness in my clean hair]--but I was [and am] still annoyed that she didn't respect my boundaries. Everyone needs to be reminded about honoring others' boundaries!!!

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    1. That sounds very strange that she insisted on doing that...with the ice from her drink. How odd. It seems a little passive aggressive even; I don't blame you for being bothered by it.

      Often people genuinely want to help but sometimes people overstep their boundaries as a way of showing that they have power over someone else. Like this boy did a 'macho' act of trying to throw the woman (my daughter) over his shoulder, caveman style.

      I really like your comment, thanks for that.

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  10. thank goodness she is ok! (at least I hope so!) The poor guy though too, I am sure he didn't mean any harm, but you are right...."No means NO!!!"

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  11. I'm so glad she's ok. Head and neck injuries can be nasty. I hope her friend learned a lesson about respecting the word No.

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  12. Ever seen an adult tickling a kid? Fun, eh? Giggling and shouting 'Stop!'. But the adult rarely stops, because IT'S JUST TOO MUCH FUN.

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    1. Ooops, that sounded a bit creepy and I posted as 'Anonymous' by accident (which only adds to the creepiness), bBut I am not a troll! I assure you!

      The point I was trying to make is that, right from the start, many of us experience the futility of 'No!'.

      I was reminded of this when my son, who is twelve, was playing chasing games in the school playground with some little girls half his age. They caught him and started pinching him mercilessly. It seemed there was nothing he could do to stop them; they ignored his pleas for tehm to stop (because it was obviously JUST TOO MUCH FUN) and he, being a little gent, was not about to resort to violence.

      Afterwards we discussed what he might have done to get out of the situation. I wondered if maybe he had shouted a 'No' with great violence, it might have shocked them into realising he wasn't sharing their fun. I don't know. What do you think?

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    2. I think you're right - if they don't listen when you say "no" then you should shout it out to get them to listen. Little girls can go into pack mode too; and from what I remember about the situation, he was wary of actually hurting them, but he was really scared and upset that they didn't stop.

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  13. I'm glad your daughter is ok. Gosh I bet that friend felt bad.
    Nice to see you Animated Woman. I've been MIA for a while. But I'm trying to find a way back into this gosh darn blogging world....:)

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    1. Nice to see you too hon, been a while.

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Cuz You Rocketh.