There's an App for That

I never knew all that goes into answering a child’s question. One question by my child and it causes me to have to start down a path in my brain that is quite wooded and hard to navigate. I cringe now as an adult when I think of all the questions I asked my Mother. Now, I know what happens in a Mother’s brain when a ‘simple’question is asked. Here is how it plays out:

Child: "Mom, can I have a glass of juice?"

In the Mother’s brain: "Where did I read that juice plays huge part of tooth decay? Has she eaten a lot of sugar today? What dress does she have one? Is is one that can get a juice stain on it? Will that new stain remover work on a juice stain? Are there any other kids around that will want a glass of juice too? Do I have enough juice? I never drank much juice when I was a kid.  Why?   Have other Mom’s read that article about juice being bad for kids? Do any of those Mothers live in  our neighborhood? What would the neighbors think? Should I keep the kids in to have their juice? If I make them take it outside will they spill it and cause an ant problem right by the back door? Perhaps if I put it in a sippy cup it would not spill. Do I have a sippy cup thingy that will make the juice spill proof? When will I stop using sippy cups? Is four too old for a sippy cup? I probably should get rid of those sippy cups in the cabinet. What if we adopt another baby? Should we adopt another baby? I think we have our hands full as it is?"

Any way, you get my drift. This is what happens to each and every question I get asked; and I am pretty sure I get asked hundreds of questions a day.

“Can I go outside?”
“Can I wear this outfit?”
“Can I stay up later?”
“Can I go to the park?”
“Can we go for a walk?”
“What did you let him/ her do that?”

That last question causes a considerable amount of guilt and self examinations. Perhaps more self examination than is done before we gather for the Lord’s Table once a month at church. Cause that question to come up and deep introspection comes into play.    

"Why would she feel that way?"
"Am I doing something that makes it seem like I have favorites?"
"Do I have favorites?"
"Why did I let that her do that?"
"Do I say no to one and not to the other?"
"Am I being fair?"
"What is fair?"
"Why isn’t life fair?"

 With that all said, I will say that it is easier to go into default mode than to have to tread down all these paths of questions to get to an answer. (Because almost always when you do get to an answer you are pretty sure that for some reason or another you choose the wrong one.)

The juice spills.
The whole neighborhood comes over and wants a drink. 
The spot remover does not take out the spot on the shirt.

Default mode is this:  Answer ‘no’ to every question.  It is easy, it is fast and the scenario is done in a matter of seconds. There can be an element of guilt involved; but my life I'm busy enough that I don't have time at the moment to think about  any other factors after default mode has been used.  Just say 'no' and get back to whatever I am doing. 

Default mode is great! Until you get to bed at night. Default mode has a way to come back to haunt you. It only happens at night when the kids are asleep and the husband is asleep and you hear snoring and the clock ticking in the kitchen. That is when you the 'default guilt rears it's head. That is when you see the look in your child’s eyes after you got done saying no for the sixth time that day. In those early hours of the morning that is when you realize that your day to day is not filled with fun.  Just business as usual. 

Well, late at night the other night, when I was in deep question of my default mode method I decided that I was going to change my computer programming to including more “yes” answers. Install a new program, so to speak.   Along with that upgrade I was going to not allow there to be a slew of questioning and self examination at my new answer. I was going to say “yes” and allow the kids to enjoy more things.  I was going to be parenting on purpose. To realize that there are spills and accidents. There are times when it is easier to say no; but that way tends to make all those involved feel like they are in a rut. There are also other parents and neighbors who will question my “yes” and even think that I should have said “no”. (Seems there is always a parent somewhere who would have done it different than me.) That night in bed I decided to enjoy my kids. To say 'yes' and to let the chips fall where they may.

The next day I was given the opportunity to use the new program that had been installed. Zak and I were at home by ourselves. The house was empty except for him and me. I had cleaning to do, laundry to fold and dinner to start. Zak was out playing in the back yard. I had noticed him throwing the football into the air and catching it himself. He must have seen me by the window with a basket of clothes screaming to be folded and put away. That is when he ran in the back door. “Hey, Mom. You want to play with me?”

There was the question and my computer brain almost went into default mode. "Play? I don’t have time to play."   Then I remembered the night before and the new computer program I had uploaded into the system.

“I think I could play. What do you want to play?”

“You want to play *Football*?” He said the word 'football' like it was the most awesome thought he had ever had. He then went and picked up the football that he had been throwing to himself. “This Mom, is called a football.”

I shook my head like I understood his language and was learning something totally new. “The game goes like this…” Now, excitement was causing his words to knock into each other as they exited his mouth. “I throw this to you and then you grab it and throw it back to me. Then I throw it to you and you grab it and then you throw it to me and I grab it. Then I throw it to you…”

I interrupted, “So we throw it back and forth to each other.” He was thrilled. In his mind he was teaching me a new game and I was getting it!  Life could not be better!

“That’s it, Mom! Except I know that you are really really old and so I will throw it really gently to you. Then I won’t hurt you.”

I suppressed the smile that was coming up to my lips and wondered just how old and feeble he must think that I am.  I shook my head like I think I had it and was willing to try the 'new'game. So we tossed the football back and forth. Smiles, giggles and all.  The clothes were there when I got back, dinner was ready on time and I got to have a little fun during all my housework. The new computer program was a success.

So if you need to have more fun with your kids – there’s and app for that.

It’s called “Yes!”

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