I say "no" a lot.
As a parent, the word "no" hangs out on the tip of my tongue just waiting to be sent into the ears of my wee little one way too often.
Can I watch TV?
Can I take the dog for a walk? Alone?
Can I take my pet caterpillar to school?
Can I give my American Girl dolls a bath in the bathtub?
No, no, and definitely no.
You can call it strict, you can call it mean, but fear keeps me from saying "yes". I have this thing, this deep need to be not just good at something, but really, really good at something. Everyone has special talent whether they know it or not, and for me, when it comes to being good at that one good thing, being a good parent is what I strive for. What I want to be good at the most. I will never be a perfect one. I will sometimes be the very opposite of one. I will have victories as one, I will fail sometimes as one, but it is the one thing I really, really want to be good at. Not perfection, no, that's not what I seek, but a good one. I want to be what my little girl deserves.
With that being said, where does "no" come into the picture?
If you ask her, "no" and all it's different forms, are said a lot. I say it out of fear most of the time. Yes just has so many consequences. Too many" what-ifs" chase that train. Yes is dangerous, fun, and can be very suave in it's nature, and "no" is quick, "no" is firm, and no usually means no fun. I forget that sometimes some of those "no's" can very easily be turned into a "yes." A safe yes.
I decided to take something I have repeatedly said "no" to, and turned it into a gleaming, spit-shined, blinking marquee, smile-a-mile-wide, " yes."
I set the scene very carefully while she was busy doing something else. She had no idea whatsoever a yes was creeping into play, just in the next room.
She has watched me for years put on my makeup, and has looked forlornly at my makeup drawer, but I have always said "no," or given the old head shake with a warning "mmm-mmm."
So, I gathered up some odds and ends, and set them on her vanity, all pretty, all poised to dabble in, sans any mention of no. Today, it was "Yes." Go ahead. Take your time. Experiment, there is no hurry. Go for it.
So I called her in, and waited to see what the next hour of yes would bring.
First off, before she saw anything, I told her about beauty coming from within. What is in your heart, governs all. It is the epicenter of all things beautiful.
She turned to see the make up, then looked at me and said "Whaaaaaaaaaat?" "REAAAAAAALLLLLY!", and she gingerly sat down, but still felt the remnants of the many years of "no"'s . She smiled, and peeked at me, and smiled, and looked sheepish into the mirror as if she was being naughty. No naughties, just a "yes" ready to party, so she dug in.
She couldn't stop smiling and snickering. I sat back and watched as she experimented and took full advantage of mom's makeup.
"It's hard, mom." she said, after a bit.
"It's hard to make it look right."
"Yes. It's tricky. It takes a long time to learn. Nobody is great at it the first time they try," I tell her.
But she plays, and we listen to a CD I made years ago, titled "chick songs." I have this Deja vu moment as I watch her, and a pang in my heart thumps hard as I realize this is going to be the scene soon, way too soon, in just eight short years or so, as she gets ready to go out with her buddies, or a date, and I return to spouting off the "No's" for the night, as she expertly lines her eyes.
Thinking about that hurts so bad.
For now, I need to learn "yes" a bit more. I need to remind myself she can't just hear no. She can't learn in just "No."
"Mom, do I look pretty?" she asks.
Yes, honey, you do. The answer is always yes." I tell her.
She smiles, and gives me a lipstick smeared grin.
"Thank you, mom." she says, her brown eyes full of grateful.
"Yes, dear. Always. I am sorry I haven't done this sooner." I answer.
"Yes. Me too......can I leave the make up on my vanity for the day, and come back later and play with it by myself?"
".....Yes. Yes, you can."
Small steps, big smiles.