My kids dipped their green beans in honey yesterday. I don’t know why. But my five-year-old asked, begged, for honey, and then his three-year-old brother started in, they’re eating vegetables and don’t have cavities, and so. Honey and green beans. Disgusting, really. But they were thrilled when I poured honey into a ramekin and told them to have at it. Both boys munched and dipped, munched and dipped, all drizzle and crunch and stickiness.“This is so awesome, mama,” my oldest said.
“Sure is, baby,” I told him, and his smile made me smile, made me realize again how those simple things we might kneejerk-deny can give us such happiness.
So I try not to say no to my kids.
That doesn’t mean I don’t discipline my kids. It doesn’t mean I let them destroy my house, or hurt each other, or watch “Daniel Tiger” til their eyeballs fall out. It means I try hard not to refuse requests just because society says I should.
Think mud. My kids love mud. They love to stomp in it. They love to kick it, and smear it, and stir it and poke it and sometimes roll in it. The world says I should keep my precious babies away from the mud puddles on the playground. It says dirty is bad, and dirty’s a pain, and, well, just stay out of the mud.Mine launch themselves right at the mud. And I let them, because kids wash clean in bathtubs. Mud makes them happy. Joyful, mud-smeared faces make me happy. We say yes to mud.
We also say yes to sticks, and yes to water, and yes, you can throw pillows at each other, because who says you can’t? We say yes, you can draw on yourself, in pen, because you want to look like a pirate. Yes, even on the face.
Some days, my sons want to dress up. They find their costumes and asked to wear them to Target. So I traverse the aisles with tiny people I pointedly call Harry Potter and Baby Norbert the Dragon. Other shoppers giggle. They smile. I smile back. A preschooler in a cloak yells magic spells at the automatic doors. A normal trip to Target became something wonderful.
We had ice cream for breakfast the other morning. It made us happy. It’s not an everyday thing. Why can’t you can’t eat ice cream for breakfast if someone asks? If you know it’s a once-in-a-blue-moon treat? I had a bowl myself. It tasted awesome.
This is how we keep the joy in our days. We say yes when we can. We follow ideas, not unimportant rules. Sure, we keep the serious ones. But yes, you can wear a makeshift Boba Fett costume to the grocery store. You can paint your nails. You can wear your beloved pajamas three nights in a row. You can even color marker tattoos on my feet.
And it’s hard to be sad with a dinosaur drawn on your toes.
TODAY SHOW parenting community contributed to this report.