Part 1 | No vs. Yes
Rubina ask so many questions in a single day. More questions than I ever thought was possible. I’ve even categorized them; here’s the breakdown:
- The “Can I’s”: Can I have some chocolate? Can I go outside? Can I get a cat? Can I jump from the fourth stair? Can I get a cat? Can I go to the park barefoot? Can I go to Oregon today? Can I get a cat???
- The “Construction/Structural Integrity” Questions (AKA, Daddy questions): How do the workers make the bridge stay up and not fall down? How does the car work? What makes the refrigerator so cold? How does the smoke detector smell smoke if it doesn’t have a nose?
- The “Oh my word, she’s four and so precious” Questions: Do you think daddy thinks about me all day at work like I think about him? Do you love your mommy like I love you? Why isn’t Coco married? I don’t want to live away from you and daddy so can I just live with you forever?
- The “Why’s”: Why don’t you like ketchup with your french fries? Why can’t we get our own airplane? Why do you wear makeup? Why does daddy have so much hair on his legs? Why do people cry when they chop onions? Why do people cry when they’re happy? Why can’t we get a cat? Why can’t I ask anymore questions for a while? (Yes, I make her take question breaks.)
- The “Yes or No” Questions: Will you let me eat cookies for breakfast? Are we going to Target today? Will you buy me 3 cool things at Target? Will you let me ride my scooter around the block all by myself? Will you read me 13 books before bedtime instead of 4?
I can pretty much deal with all categories with the exception of number 2; it’s perfectly acceptable to answer all questions in this category with “Ask your daddy, he’ll know”. There are five categories of Ruby questions, friends, I should get a pass on one of them. Come on, now.
The yes or no questions are what I want to focus on today. I’m telling you, “no” rolls off my tongue at lightening speed most days. And I mean, lightening, before she can even finish her question, speed. More often than not I find myself saying “no” before actually stopping to consider her question. There are some yes/no questions that will always have a standing no in our home; here are a few examples:
- No, you may not wear a bikini (Sue me, people, Just sue me. You have your rules, I have mine.)
- No, you may not wear your swimsuit or pj’s to the store
- No, we are not ever, ever, ever getting a cat
- No, you may not color on the walls
There are more, of course, but you may be losing your mind over the bikini one so I’ll just stop my ever conservative self before I further blow your mind…
We all have our own rules and you might think mine are dumb, too conservative or no fun; I might not get yours either but let’s try and not judge each other. We parent differently and that’s okay. I assure you, if you are walking through the grocery store with Super Man or Tinkerbell you will not be on the receiving end of a dirty look from me. I’ll smile and quietly think you are much more fun than I. Rubina will have a more audible response; in the form of a question, of course, “Why does he get to wear his costume to the store?!!”. We each live with our own convictions. Let us teach our children to accept each others differences while they’re still young and pray it sticks!
Back to my relationship with the word “no”… The frequency at which I answer “no” is something I put in my Bad Mom file because it’s something I’d like to see change and serves as a reminder to me to be more open minded. Rules are a must but I should let go a little and allow her to share her uninhibited nature some of the time. She’ll be young and wild and free for so few years. There will always be many no’s in life and in our home, we are in desperate need of a few more yes’s…
Recently, I said yes on two separate occasions; it made my little ones day and was relatively painless…
A couple weeks ago, Rubina was dressing up while I was taking pantry inventory. She put her denim shirt on backwards and asked me to button up the back. “I like how smooth it is in the front without the buttons”, she said. When we were ready to head out for grocery shopping she asked if she could please wear her shirt that way because it was so “stylish” and “fashion-y”. I hummed. I hawed. I wondered how many looks we’d get and then decided to allow it. She was thrilled and so proud of her fashionable look.
And the following week she asked, “Mommy, can I please wear my shields when we go shopping so I can stay in character? I’m super-hero-shield-girl and I want to look like I just saved someones life! Sooo, can I wear them?” I took a moment and thought back on the joy her backwards shirt wearing escapade brought and I decided on yes, again, instead of no. It wasn’t a fleeting thought in which I said yes in order to avoid a battle. Rather, it was a conscious parenting moment in which I recognized I ought to listen more closely to her little voice and reexamine my perpetual habit of saying no before pausing for consideration. Ruby has a fiery spirit and I love her weird and fun ideas; its okay to indulge an impulse once in a while. If you think I’m an idiot, that’s fine. If you think I’m giving her too much freedom, that’s okay too. The few moments of joy I captured make me confident in my decision. Life saving, super hero shields won’t be a part of every grocery run but sometimes it’s okay…
Will this eventually lead to her traipsing around clad in a mermaid tail and tiara? Good grief, I hope not. I just hope to keep her joyful face in the forefront of my mind when my first inclination is to say “no” vs. “yes”. As parents we have to say no an awful lot. Sometimes, let’s say yes.