As a working mother of a toddler, I live in a world of no. No. You can’t eat Ritz crackers for dinner. No, you can’t play with the sidewalk chalk when it is 8 degrees and dark outside. No. You can’t watch ANOTHER hour of Thomas the Train on Netflix. No, no, no, no, no.
The other day, I picked up Colton from school, and he raced to his cubby. He pulled out a neon blue lollipop and told me he had earned it at school today, and that he wanted to give it to ME. Could I open it now? No, Colton, we can’t open it now. We are going to get your sister and we can’t be all sticky. Once the kids were settled in the car, Colton asked again if I wanted to eat my lollipop. No Colton, we are headed to church supper. We shouldn’t eat a lollipop right before dinner. Then, heading home from church… No Colton, it’s almost bedtime. This isn’t time for candy. The next morning at breakfast, Colton asked me if I wanted my lollipop, and tears sprang to my eyes. My precious son was trying to give me the lollipop he earned as his prize at school. Why was I rejecting it over and over? So right then and there I unwrapped it. I had candy for breakfast, and a bright blue tongue to remind me of the little boy who wanted to give me a the one thing he had to give.
I think I have started saying no so much that it is now my automatic reaction. I call it the ‘knee jerk no’. But I don’t want my relationship with my child to be centered around the things he can’t do. I want to take the time to really celebrate the everyday magic in life. So I am going to focus on learning when to say YES!
Yes. We can read another story before bedtime.
Yes. You can bake cookies without your shirt on.
and yes. you can eat the dough. That’s the whole point of making cookies!
Yes. You can choose your outfit today.
Yes. Your mother loves you, and yes, she is available and present with you.
With each yes, I see a bit more of the magic of childhood. I remember what it was like to feel the cold breeze of winter as a novelty and not an imposition. I remember that it is fun to take a long bubble bath with lots of toys, to wear mismatched pajamas, and that the world will not end if bedtime is 15 minutes late. I remember that I only have this moment with my little boy one time and that it is a gift to be reveled in, not endured, or scheduled to the teeth.
Saying yes to Colton entails more than just spontaneity. I must also learn to say NO to other things. Extra work projects. My mental to do list. Even good things, like time with friends or fun events.
And there are still many no’s to be said… I am still trying to raise a God-loving, responsible, unselfish human being. But I want to remember that part of my role as a parent is to show the joy in life as well as the rules…
And then there’s this…
Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.