Ok here’s a question: How many times a day do you find yourself saying “no”? Be honest. If you really had to think hard about it, you might realize it is a word you have become far too familiar with and one you certainly consider to be high on your list of vocab, especially since becoming a parent.
Maybe it’s because kids are CONSTANTLY asking for things. Constantly nagging to do something, eat something or go somewhere. Either way I find myself saying “NO” more and more as everyday I try to find ways to simplify our lives and to not have to go that extra mile. Anything to turn down the crazy. Anything that doesn’t require too much added effort. I know you all know what I’m talking about.
As much as I love spending time with my kids and going on outings to explore the world together, there are times when the need for peace and order override my capacity to say YES to things. How many times have I said “NO” to going the aquarium because I couldn’t bare the thought of being caught in a bit of traffic on the way home or said NO to taking the paints out, in fear of them ruining their clothes (or my clean home) How many times have I sternly looked at them and said “NO! We can’t blow bubbles right now” or “ No Its time to go, I need to cook supper. What does N.O Spell? NO, the answer is no!”
While it very often means saying no to things they really shouldn’t have or to boundaries that are being pushed, I’ve had to examine myself a little more closely. Of course there are certainly many instances where a firm no is in order, like when they have drawn a mural on your wall (Yes this happens in my home), hurt a friend, eaten too many sweets or done something to put their lives at risk, but I’ve had to wonder if I’ve become too quick to say no to things that are only going to benefit them. I’ve been so caught up saying no when I should be showing my children the significance of saying YES, saying yes to many of life’s great gifts as they present themselves to us daily.
What am I teaching my children when I say no to their innocent requests? How am I helping them take life by the horns and to suck the marrow out of life? How am I leading by example and teaching them to take risks, to live fearlessly and make every moment count? I guess it’s a little hard doing that when your head is stuck too far up your own ass. Ok sometimes it’s a very real and good reason. We are just so dam tired! I get it. But sometimes we are just lazy and couldn’t be bothered. Well I know I am anyway.
The truth is I have become so good at saying no. It’s become second nature to me and I find myself saying it more than I care to admit. I’ve become so good at cutting these opportunities off, never allowing spontaneous fun to evolve, never inviting the magic in. In the business of life, the errands, the shopping, the cooking, the (coveted) me/couple time, I’ve become so focused on doing whatever it takes to keep our lives neat and tidy. It’s easy. All I have to say is NO.
Just to be clear, I’m not saying we need to always be doing stuff in order to connect with our children or keep them entertained at the risk of losing our sanity. I’m talking about losing those precious moments because we are too afraid/tired/bored/frustrated to say “yes”. I’m talking about being too preoccupied with silly things that we don’t grab the small opportunities or when we constantly turn down offers from our children that could be rewarding us both with the greatest joy.
I’m talking too about letting them do the silly stuff kids do and stopping saying no to every little thing they do. They jump on the bed. NO. They have a pillow fight. NO. They pull all their toys into the lounge to make a tent under the table. NO. They watch tv upside down. NO. They make silly faces at each other and rumble each other to death. NO. They blow bubbles in their chocolate milk. NO. They color out the lines, they draw spiders with pen on their toes, they jump on your back, they laugh loudly in public, they have water fights in bath. NO. NO. NO. NO!!! While the thought of these things get me all hot and panicky, I ask myself the very simple questions “What are they really doing that’s so bad? What are they doing that’s so offensive? Is what they doing really so wrong, so unacceptable? When will I start letting my kids be kids. Better yet, when will I go along for the ride?
I have spent the last few days wondering how much I have missed out on and how much more I am prepared to lose as slowly over time I’ve adopted this NO mantra. How many laughs, smiles and memories will go unseen today, tomorrow, next year? The truth is I don’t want to say No anymore. I want to say YES! “Yes, lets read this book for 100 time in a row, YES lets see who can jump the highest, YES lets go to the park even though its windy” “Yes you can help with supper and pour the honey in your yoghurt. Yes we can do some crafts and yes we can make a mess, because mess is not the end of the world.” I want to start saying yes to the simple things, to gently take my big head out of my uptight ass and say a big fat, “YES! “
BY: LEIGH GEARY