Say Yes, a post by Catherine Arveseth from The Power of Moms, arrived in my in-box earlier this week via my good friend Crystal. As we prepared for our trip to the wilds of ‘Toba, it was a timely reminder for me… “Yes, you can take the waterguns.” “Yes, we’ll throw the scooters in.” “Yes, we’ll buy those Peak Freens cookies for the road.”
I dream of getting into the car with one suitcase. And sometimes, I get to, and sometimes, they have to leave their markers, stuffies, balls (“Ender, seriously? Three balls? Baby, one soccer ball in the car. One.” “Two?” “One.” “Two?” Damn you, Bambi eyes) and what-not behind. And I know that from that bag of toys, one will be played with. So be it. “Yes.”
We default to “No” so easily. Because we’re tried. Because we don’t want to go up (or down) the stairs one more time. Because we don’t want to clean up the mess. I like to think our house is a “yes if possible” environment, but… we all default to “No,” sometimes, often for a not very good reason.
From Arveseth’s post:
“Yes is air” writes Ann Voskamp. “In the rarefied oxygen of that one word, ‘yes!’, the dreams breathe deep and the body exhales joy. I embrace [the] mess and try to be done with the slow suffocation of ‘perhaps’ and ‘we’ll see’ and ‘maybe’ — the biding of time till the visions wither limp — and every day I try to remember that control smothers and fear asphyxiates.”
I’d add two points to this.
First, there are so many moments and days in a child’s–a person’s life–when the No is inevitable. When you as a parent have to say no, because the request is not feasible–dangerous–impossible. Or when the world says No, because, well, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles in 2012. Or when you’re doubled over the toilet vomiting and there isn’t an ounce of strength left in you to say “Yes” to anything… anything.
Second, when “No” is not the default mode, when it’s pulled out only when really necessary–it has way more power. It means… “No.” Rather than, “No, but if you whine and complain and argue enough I might change my mind. Or, “No. No. No… why are you doing it anyway?”
So. I’m writing this just before our trip–you’re reading this while I’m already on it. My task for myself: to be conscious of “Yes.” To default there. To really think hard before I say “No.”
I’ll report back on how it went when we come back. Including on how soccer balls I was conned into putting into the van…