Let’s just get this out in the open right now:
I’m not one of those easygoing parents. Wow, I feel better already.
At least, I don’t feel like one of those easygoing parents; easygoing is a spiritual practice for me, wherein I practice being okay when my child does not want to organize her clothes by type (pants, shirts, etc) or by color.
The thing is, I aspire to be an easygoing parent, a parent that thinks about Rules in this way: “Let’s have just a few of them, and only for really important things.”
Once, when there were some interpersonal difficulties between my daughters, I asked my eldest what the most important rule in the house was.
She knew right away. “Food stays in the kitchen.”
I had been thinking more along the lines of kindness, but had a feeling that’s not what I was saying day in and day out.
So the past week or so, I’ve been trying to say yes to my kids more often.
Now believe me, I’m a firm believer in a good no: an establishing of boundaries, a clear letting down, a creation of limits to keep younger ones safe, and feeling safe.
But a good yes can be life-giving, hesitation-breaking, discovery-making.
Can we make a kite? Yes. I do not mention that it probably won’t fly. It doesn’t, but at that point, it doesn’t matter.
Can I get ruffle socks? Yes, and you can get socks with little pink balls on the ankles, not the white ones I usually buy because they’re practical.
Can we get a milkshake today? Yes, even though we’re all a little lactose-intolerant. You know, I have never enjoyed a fast-food milkshake as much as having my daughters drip it all over me with wide, amazed grins on their faces.
The thing is, No is a reflex. It is useful, but often overused. Lately, I have been asking myself: will this really hurt them? Will it hurt me? Will it hurt the furniture? And if it does, does it matter?
More often then I would have thought, it will not.
Here’s what I’m hoping: If I say yes to my daughters enough, perhaps I’ll start saying yes to myself, too.