Or the alternate title … creative uses for the Mini M&Ms in your kids’ trick-or-treat bags.
When it comes to being a parent, the word “no” freely flows out of your mouth without hesitation.
“Mom, can we…?”
“Mom, can I…?”
No. No. No.
It’s too late. We have things to do. That’s not what I planned. I don’t want to. The reasons are endless. Almost as endless as the questions coming from the kids. As a parent, we have a schedule (whether loose or tight) and a routine, and deviation from that could be disastrous. But what if …
What if we said “yes” more? “Yes” to a quick game of hide-and-seek even though dinner is nearly ready? “Yes” to one more book at storytime? “Yes” to the kids helping to make dinner? “Yes” to the kids emptying the dishwasher, even if things don’t end up in the right place?
I know I am just as guilty as the next parent. Nick usually wanders into the kitchen near dinnertime and wants to help. I’ve got everything under control and sometimes the help just isn’t, well, helpful. It slows things down. It changes the process. You know.
But I try. I try to say “yes” more. “Yes” when it’s really ok. When five minutes won’t make or break anything. When that little something extra makes a whole lotta difference. Just yes.
Last night was just one of those nights. Madeline‘s afternoon nap ran late. So dinner was running late. Which means bathtime ran late. Nick came into the kitchen and wanted to help. Madeline was still sleeping and dinner was easy and under control. It was a time to say yes.
“Mom, can I make something?” he asked, peering at what was cooking on the stove.
“Please? I want to be like you.”
And that is exactly why I work on saying yes more. For moments just like that.
I cleared some space on the kitchen counter and showed him a picture of Cowardly Lion Cookies I had wanted to make. I thought they would be perfect for Madeline’s class. The manes of the cookies were a bit fiddly and there might have been a passing complaint of a hand cramping up, but he managed to do two trays of them for me before she woke up. Yes, dinner was later. Bathtime was later. Everything was a bit later. But you know what? That is absolutely, positively ok.
I vividly remember a long-ago article I read on John Travolta. It talked about how his wife, Kelly, had woken up in the middle of the night, and found his side of the bed empty. She heard noises coming from downstairs, so she went to investigate. When she got to the kitchen, she found John and their son, Jett, sitting on the kitchen floor, tossing coconut flakes up in the air. John looked over at her, smiled, and said, “Look! It’s snowing!” John and Jett were having the time of their lives. She shook her head at their silliness, but eventually joined in the fun.
I read that article a good four or five years ago and that has always stuck with me. That’s the kind of parent I’ve strived to be. Silliness from out of nowhere. Saying yes. Spontaneous. Just because. Sure, there was probably a nice mess to clean up when they were done. But it is a happy memory that stuck around a lot longer than the coconut flakes on the floor. And perhaps even more important now since the Travoltas lost their son earlier this year, way before his time.