Some days, I feel like I am telling my kids ‘no’ at least 2,378 times.
“No, don’t run with that!”
“No, we can’t make that right now.”
“No, we can’t do that today.”
It’s usually followed up with 80 questions of why nots or whining. I see their little defeated faces after hearing me so “no” over and over again. Then the guilt sets in.
One day of a particularly large amounts of no’s, I had my sons in the car driving to some annoying errand. My mind was set on accomplishing some silly task when we passed a 7-11. My oldest noticed the logo instantly and excitedly asked if we could stop and get slurpees. He followed up his request with noting that it was a very hot day and the icy drink would be refreshing for all of us (He was appealing to my usual comments about how summers are synonymous with slurpees. We would not be surprised one bit if law school was in his future). His little brother perked up in his seat at the thought, cheering for a blue raspberry slurpee.
I instantly said “no, not today, we have 400 things on our to-do list and slurpees are not one of them,” In the review mirror, I watched his face fall and it dawned on me. “Why am I saying no to this? It would take maybe 10 mins out of our day and it would make them so happy. And he’s right, it’s 93° outside, a slurpee sounds amazing!”
I went to express my change-of-heart but then paused. A fun idea popped in my head. Our boys like to pretend they are driving (as a lot of kids do) from the backseats, using whatever they can find as a steering wheel and make car noises. At that moment, my second born was doing just that. I pretended to panic slightly and loudly asked, “Oliver are you driving the car?!? I can’t steer! What is happening?”
His eyes got big at the thought and said “YES, mama I is!!”. My oldest looked confused but then caught on quickly and instructed his brother to turn the car into the 7-11 parking lot. The car veered in that direction as they both squealed wildly at the thought of being in control of the car. I was still pretending like something was wrong with the car as we pulled into the parking lot and the boys couldn’t stop cheering and laughing.
As you may have guessed, we did indeed slurp down those sugary, delicious drinks that day. It cost me a few minutes, six bucks and it was completely worth the smiles and excitement.
In a world full of rules and ‘don’t do that’s’, it was fun for a moment to not just say yes but to have them believe they were saying yes. They were the reason that we got a nice break and a treat that day. I also learned to chill more about running errands with them. Saying yes more often is better for everyone.
We never did get the car fixed. Every now and again it acts up and, somehow, some way, Oliver can control the wheel. He takes us to parks, Chuck E. Cheese, the museum and the other day we even had ice cream for lunch. He doesn’t know it was really to celebrate having a great first week in his new preschool class. All he knows is he saw a sign and drove towards it.
Mamas, sprinkle in some magic for them. Say yes more and remember they only have one childhood. Let them drive sometimes.