I find myself saying no often as a mom. Yesterday the no’s included:
No, Chica, you cannot play Minecraft on that one morning where you’re actually ready for school early. In a strange turn of events, you’re distracting Bubba. Sorry.
No, you cannot keep playing when it’s time to go.
No, you will not get a treat if you don’t eat your sandwich. My answer hasn’t changed since the last seven times you asked me.
There are other frequent no’s:
No, you can’t knock on your friend’s door at 6:45 on a school night. I know we just got home, but your friend is probably already getting his shower. And nope, 7:30 on Saturday morning just won’t work either, Bud.
No, we’re not going to sign you up for a sport right now. I’m barely holding on to our current commitments.
No, we’re not getting a pet. I don’t like/need/believe in/want to take care of/have time for pets. No no no.
And then the one that crushes me a little every time:
No, I can’t do (fill-in-the-blank) with you right now. I have homework. Lots of it.
I worry about that all the time. I worry that this is what they will remember and what will define these years for them. When I shared that worry with a friend last week, she said, “No. They will remember a mom who had a goal and worked hard to achieve it.”
I hope you’re right.
Friday nights are usually my one night off. The week is a hard push to Thursday, my class night. Thursday nights, after class, are for catching up on all the balls I’ve dropped during the week. By Friday I’m just over it. I declare to my unsurprised family every Friday, “I’m doing nothing tonight. No-thing.” I want to curl up on the couch and spend the evening in an internet mind-suck, guilt free.
Last night I had the phone in hand, pillows propped just right, and blanket pulled up, when Bubba decided to join me. He pushed his way up into the warm corners in the way that only he can do. “Can we play a board game?”
No. This is my night. My night to lay here and be warm and numb and do nothing.
But, I said: Yes. It was an “ok-I-guesssss-sooooo” kind of yes, but still a yes.
He was surprised. I was surprised. Jay was surprised. Bubba rushed into Chica’s room to grab Chutes and Ladders before I could change my mind.
So here’s the biggest surprise of all: I had fun.
1. Apparently Jay and Bubba played Chutes and Ladders recently. Jay helped him work out the ever maddening problem of knowing which direction to move. There was no more, “Hey! You’re going backwards!”
2. The kid moved for me. That’s love right there, y’all. I stayed warm under the blanket, and he counted out the moves for both of us.
3. He’s gotten fast. One main problem with this game is that it takes so blasted long. But when you don’t have to remind a kid it’s his turn or wait for him to figure out which way the numbers are going, it gets better. Promise.
4. We talked math. I can’t help it. Here’s one of my favorite examples: We were on the same spot. I rolled a 3, and he moved me 3 ahead. Then he rolled a 6. Instead of counting up 6 from his spot, he counted up 3 from my spot. I love hearing him try to explain those understandings that just come naturally to him.
5. And the ABSOLUTE biggest reason I had fun: He’s a good sport. Chica is just rotten with sportsmanship, and she always has been. She’ll cry if she loses. She’ll cry if she thinks she’s going to lose. She’ll quit rather than lose. Lately she’ll actually just refuse to play anything rather than lose. I’ve tried everything I know to do to help her with this, but I think it’s going to continue to be a long, slow, uphill climb. I guess either Bubba is just wired completely differently, or all the sermons I’ve preached to her stuck to him. Whatever caused it, that boy is good at winning and losing. He’s competitive, but encouraging. It was a night of no tears and no pouting, and it was refreshing.
We ended up playing one game of Chutes and Ladders, one fast game of Candy Land, and at least three rounds of super hero dominoes. To top off an already great evening, we had ice cream right before bed and talked math. Talking math is my current love language. (Joking…..but actually not really.) Out of nowhere he starts telling me he knows what half of 180 is. He explains he’s thinking about how many school days there are, “And I just can’t get that number out of my mind.” Yep. My kid. I get ya buddy. His explanation was so unexpected that I made him say it again so I could record it.
I’m struggling with how to end this post. Goodness knows I’m not going to conclude with some challenge to my mom friends about more yes’s. Because, let’s be real friends, my ratio of no’s to yes’s is like 2,348 to 1.
Instead I’m just going to hope for all of us that the yes’s are the spaces where the strongest memories are made. That’s true for me as a mom, so hopefully it will be the same for them. Carry on.