“Mom! Can we build a fort, please please please?”
I made a quick mental calculation: set up time – 20 minutes, dismantling time – another 20 minutes, effort required – in the region of far too much. I glanced at my to-do list and nuh-uh, fort building was out of the question today.
“Um, how about another time? Hey let’s do some colouring instead. Here’s a bunch of crayons, knock yourselves out guys.”
“Can I play dress up with my princess Belle dress?”
This particular dress was a colossal pain to wash by hand and the odds of her spilling chocolate milk on it or getting ink stains on it or getting it ripped while tearing up and down the house were a gazillion to one.
“We should keep it for special occasions, sweetheart. If not, it’ll get destroyed and you won’t be able to wear it anymore.”
“I’m bored. Shall we go to the playground?” Truett asked.
Out of nowhere, his sister’s voice replied, “I don’t think so, kor kor…mommy’s busy. Maybe another time, ok?”
OUCH. In the scheme of awful mom moments, that was one of my worst.
Right then, I realised that I was turning into one of those parents who said no all the time. In my head, I had super important valid reasons for the each no and I even tried to disguise them as maybe laters but they were really just a whole bunch of big fat NOs. I was busy and anything that was too messy or time consuming or required too much effort had a default NO attached to it. Worst of all, the kids were catching on.
There’s value to kids learning that they can’t get what they want all the time but it’s like moms are given a bag of NOs at the start of the day and these should be used wisely and sparingly.
Me, I was blazing through my bag of NOs faster than I knew how to replenish them. And since they weren’t the sort to throw a hissy fit when they didn’t get what they wanted, most of the time, they’d just walk away with disappointment all over their little faces. At the rate I was doling out NOs, it was probably a matter of time before they knew to stop asking for my attention and company completely.
I needed to start turning my NOs into YESs. Yeses? Yesses? Whatever the plural of yes is.
I looked at my laptop and then I looked at the kids who had turned their attention to making a human burrito out of a very bewildered baby Finn and it was suddenly clear which one of those things was more important.
Burritos. Always baby burritos. And then we would play dress up and build a fort and maybe even squeeze in some time for the playground.