You know what I don't hear in this scripture? "Is anyone suffering? You should be grateful. You know a lot of people have it WAY worse than you. Is anyone joyful? C'mon now. Think about how other people are feeling, and give it a rest. There are people going through a lot right now, and you're just rubbing it in their faces."
Yeah, none of that. It simply allows people to accept that where they are is ok. Everyone has sad times, and hurting times, and suffering times. Everyone of us has happy times, and silly times, and good days.
They why do we pass on to our children this way of "That's not the right time to do something because I don't feel like doing it"?
It hit me the other day. I was trying to clean up. We were trying to leave town unexpectedly, and I was stressed to the max. I had already packed Hubster's bags, knowing that he would be leaving before all of us, and I was left with packing up the kids, the dog, myself, and trying to get out of town. While I'm in a panicked frenzy, my children are asking to play with play dough, watch a movie, eat more crackers, and dump all the legos out on the floor. I just about lost it - not on them, mind you, just in general.
And then it hit me: they weren't stressed in the slightest! They wanted to play TOGETHER, and sing and eat and watch a movie. The only thing that was "off" here was MY attitude.
It was at that moment that I had realized that I had a habit of saying "no" to the kids for no reason other than I wasn't into whatever they were doing. I didn't want to play Duplos. Then it hit me, they didn't ask me to play with them. They asked if they could play without me. It had no effect on my plans that day at all. In fact, it freed me up to do the dishes and laundry without them underfoot because they were occupied. I started asking myself these question every time they ask to do something:
Is it unsafe or unhealthy?Running into traffic, playing with electrical outlets, etc are an obvious "No!" Can my three year old actually sit in my lap while we drive to the store? No. But he's just fine pretending for 3 minutes while I put his brother in his carseat (and I have the keys in my hand) and shut the doors to the house. Is it going to physically hurt him to bring his toy car with him while we go grocery shopping? Is it going to harm him in any way if he decides to bring his giant suitcase of Matchbox cars to school instead of his blanket and pillow? No. But he'll learn for next time that you can't cuddle with a suitcase during naptime. Can a little boy live on ice cream and peanut butter alone? No, but that doesn't mean he won't try! There have been days where all I could get him to eat was a peanut butter sandwich. Other days, my victory was he was willing to wear pants to school.
Is it an issue of respect/values/manners?Spitting in other people's faces is a problem. Whining when he could be using "big boy words" is a problem. Throwing a fit because he doesn't want to do something is a problem. Sometimes telling him no looks more like, "Sorry, but boys who don't eat dinner don't get ice cream." or "Boys who complain and throw fits don't go to the park." But is playing with the play dough an issue of values? No. Is taking the book to bed really that big of an issue? No.
Is it an issue of budget or time?More than once, the kids have asked for ice cream, and we really didn't have the cash to spend. Sometimes, it's impossible. I'd love to go to the zoo also, but I don't always have the time to drive an hour, etc when I have to be home by a certain time. Sometimes, we just don't have the time. In these cases, I usually explain that while we can't do those things right now, we'll make plans to do so soon.
Then WHY am I saying, "No"?Because I don't want to pick up the playdough? Then I don't. I make him pick it up, or it gets thrown away because it gets hard and unusable. Because I don't want to pick up all of the Legos? Then I don't. They pick them up when they're done. If Mom has to pick them up, they go into the Toy Hospital (aka hall closet) to "recover" from being thrown, forgotten, fought over, etc. Sometimes stuff is just a bad idea. "No, we can't watch another episode of Super Why. We're done with screen time for today." is just as common in our house as "Please take your feet off the table."
Sometimes, honestly, the answer "No" can't always be explained. "Mom, can we watch this movie?" As he pulls out my copy of Pulp Fiction. "Mom, can I have more milk?" No, it makes you a little jerk when you have too much at one time: you don't poop; you puke everywhere; and, you drive me crazy. So, we're going to limit your intake to less than a gallon a day, ok?
The commitment to say "Yes" has been harder than any New Year's Resolutions I've ever done. It can be exhausting to always say "yes!" but it's much harder to always say, "no."