no, parenting, yes

The "Yes" of least resistance

I just did that thing where you stand in front of the open freezer with a carton of ice cream and a spoon, intending to just get one spoonful, but you either get greedy or the spoon is smaller than you thought and you scoop out too much and before you can grab it with your tongue some of it falls off and hits the kitchen floor.

And then you feel silly, because now the floor is sticky, and really, you’re a grownup, and why didn’t you just get a bowl?

The Old (Pre-Motherhood) Me did not sneak ice cream in front of the freezer. If she wanted ice cream, she just got some and ate it.

The Current (Good Mother) Me knows that if her preschooler sees her eating ice cream, he will want some, too, and this is not an appropriate time for him to eat ice cream.

There’s a Me that’s on the rise, though. One who wants to chill out a little bit. This Me-On-The-Rise kind of figures, “Who cares? Let him have ice cream. Then you can eat yours in peace. If he shouldn’t be eating it now, then neither should you!”

I’m not sure where she came from, but she makes more and more sense to me these days.

Upon reflection, I have a lot of arbitrary rules about things.

Does it actually hurt the couch cushions if you jump on them?
Why can’t he eat grass if he wants to see what it tastes like?
Would it be a crisis if he brought sticks inside?
Is it that big of a deal if he picks his nose and eats his boogers?

(If he’s still doing that when he starts dating, some girl will probably take care of that one, right?)

How many times a day am I really going to tell him “No, Stop, Don’t, That’s Enough” ?

I loved this “day in the life” post by Haley over at Carrots for Michaelmas. Just reading about how her days go makes me feel so much better, like I’m not alone in the universe struggling through the trials and tribulations of four-years-old-going-on-fourteen with my hands full of double baby, juggling multiple cups of coffee to make up for the sleep I’m not getting. Thanks, thanks, Haley, for sharing how little sleep you got that week. Somehow, it helps.
Maybe I have spent too much valuable time and energy trying to convince SuperSam that it would be better to change out of “jammies” for going out in public. One day recently, he went to the library in jammies, a superhero cape and rainboots. I was just too tired to argue that day.

I have since decided that it might not matter anyway.

I say “no” more than I really need to.

Anybody else ever feel that way? Does it matter if my kid wears a cape and rainboots? Pajamas, even? Do I care if anyone objects to that?

The Me-On-The-Rise says Probably Not. If no one is going to be hurt and it gets us out of the house more quickly, then it’s probably not worth arguing with him. There are plenty of actual things to say “no” to every day. I don’t need to list them for you if you have been reading this blog.

  • Going fishing in the aquarium? (Nope, not okay.)
  • Pretending to ride your baby sister like a horse? (No way.)
  • Putting that extension cord in your mouth because you’re pretending it’s your astronaut oxygen tank? (Absolutely not!) 
  • Stacking your dresser drawers on the bed, piling books on top of them and scaling the whole mountain in an attempt to duct tape yourself to the ceiling? (What?? NO!!)
  • Drawing on yourself with a magic marker and calling it a tattoo? (Um, okay. That’s fine.)

You might call this avoiding a tantrum. You might even call it something worse than that (though probably just under your breath, in that kind of quiet judgy way we have of talking about each other when we think we observe poor parenting).

I think it’s more like “I’m just not willing to die on that hill” parenting.

The Play at Home Moms have a collection of photos on their Facebook page called The Yes Album…a kind of chronicle of all these situations in which they could have said “no” to their children but said “yes” instead. Most of theirs are situations that some parents might consider off-limits or even dangerous. Of course, the Play at Home Moms aren’t putting their kids in danger…they just know that with proper supervision, children can do amazing things and have amazing experiences, and that sometimes it pays to say “yes” when you feel like saying “no.”

Sometimes, I think my “no” is more about convenience for me than about creating amazing experiences for my children.

You know what? That’s okay, too.

There are days I’m barely functional over here, up to my neck in four-and-under and looking for a way to get from point A to point B with the least possible resistance. On those days, I say my share of “no,” maybe even at times that I could really say “yes.”

I say “no” just to make life easier for me.

Honestly, if I can say “no” to make things easier on myself, can’t I say “yes” for the same reason?

Me-On-The-Rise says, “Yep.”

If you see us at Wal-mart and my kid is in pajamas and a space helmet at noon, you’ll know that this is exactly what happened.

And hey, there are dozens of people at Wal-mart dressed a lot worse than that.

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