The Power of Yes

Feb 24

I think often about my people-pleasing instincts.  About my tendency to say Yes, even when I mean No.

Apparently Belinda Munoz at The Halfway Point thinks about these things too.  Two of her posts last week – on saying Yes and saying No – inspired me to reconsider my own on-again, off-again relationship with saying No.

And they made me realize that I do know how to say No.  I say it all the time in fact.  Ad nauseum.  Every day.

To my son, Big Boy.

A chorus of No’s rains down upon him from the moment he wakes up: “No, you may not have a vanilla sandwich cookie for breakfast.”

Throughout his morning: “No, you may not watch ‘Max & Ruby’ right now”; his midday: “No, I can’t play ‘train tracks’ with you right now; I have to empty the dishwasher”; his afternoon nap: “No, we only read two books before nap”; and his evening: “No, I can’t do crafts right now; I just have to check my e-mail quickly before I put Tiny Baby down for the night.”

All the way up to his bedtime: “No, you can’t stay in the bathtub any longer; it’s time for sleep.”

He has also met all of No’s siblings and cousins: No Way, Not Now, Stop, Don’t Do That, Be Careful, Watch Out, Whoa, Just, Only, No More, Can’t, and Shouldn’t.

And the thing is, Big Boy is a really good kid.  He’s sweet and patient and a generous big brother.  He is two, but he’s a good two.  His behavior is not such that he deserves that cacophony of No’s all day, every day.

So, with thanks to Belinda and in the spirit of last Wednesday’s Lenten promises, I’m going to issue myself a new challenge: try to say Yes more often to Big Boy.  When met with a reasonable request, I will try not to default to No.

No (and all of its relations) will still have a prominent place chez Motherese (see, for instance, the aforementioned No to vanilla sandwich cookies for breakfast; that sort of behavior is reserved for grown-ups, you see), but I will try to lean toward Yes before leaning toward No.

Especially when Big Boy is asking for my time, rather than for things.

Because, in 16 years, I will still have a dishwasher to unload, but I suspect there will be a distinct absence of toddlers around with whom to play train tracks.

Are you good about balancing Yes and No?  If you are a parent, do you find yourself saying Yes or No more often to your kids?  Where is the line between acquiescence and over-indulgence?

Image: Yes no maybe by elycefeliz via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.