For a long time, as a parent, my first reaction when one of the kids asked me if they could do something was to say “No”. I usually had that reaction because I was concerned about them making a mess that I’d have the clean up or I was worried about them doing something to make someone else angry or other such nonsense.
As I got a bit older, my mom asked me why I was saying “No”. That stopped me in my tracks and made me rethink how I was doing things. Was I saying No for my convenience or for their safety? What would it hurt if I said Yes instead? So I tried it – I said Yes.
When Nathan and his friends wanted to do the cinnamon challenge (ie. trying to eat a tablespoon of cinnamon in a minute) – I said Yes even though they spewed the cinnamon all over the deck in a brown fog. When they wanted to try to drink a gallon of milk in less than a minute – I said Yes, even though they ended up puking the milk all over the backyard. When they wanted to see how many warheads they could eat – I said Yes even though they ate enough to make their tongues bleed. When Bradley wanted a guinea pig – I said Yes even though I ended up having to give the guinea pig injections toward the end of its life. When the kids wanted hamsters – I said Yes even though I was the one that had to clean the cages. When they wanted to put up a trampoline in the backyard – I said Yes even though it killed all the grass under it.
I look back on these things and think things like “Did I want a trampoline in my backyard that killed all my grass?” Not really. (the grass still hasn’t grown back right) “Did I want to take care of hamsters and guinea pigs – because you know the parents are the ones that ultimately end up caring for these animals?” Not really.
But I found that saying Yes instead of No provided my kids with memories that they wouldn’t have otherwise had. They look back at their childhood and remember that I’m the mom that let them experiment and try things when other moms wouldn’t. Keep in mind, I didn’t always say Yes, but I found that evaluating the reason for the Yes went a long way toward making a better decision for everyone concerned.