Getting to Yes

The simple question “Why?” pulled me up short this week.

Here’s the context.

We’ve spent the morning up to our elbows in an art project. The kids are now on an art kick and have gotten their drawing easels out. Chaos is reigning and Mom is trying to keep up with everyone, prevent unnecessary messes, and put necessary fires out. “No, don’t do that,” or some variation on the theme is frequently issuing forth from my lips.

We’ve hit a lull. I’m on the floor with somebody piled on my lap. As we chat and watch those still interested tackle the art easels with chalk or markers, I look up to see Samuel coloring all over a piece of chalk with a colored pencil.

“Samuel! Don’t color on the chalk!”

“Why, Mom?”

Enter stunned moment. Usually I’m pretty good about coming up with ludicrous answers on the spot but I sure didn’t have one good reason why he shouldn’t color on the chalk. So I said,

“Never mind. Go ahead and color on the chalk.”

How did I get here? To this spot where “No” flies out of my mouth like a knee-jerk reaction?

I mentally flogged myself all that afternoon.

It probably wasn’t chance that I heard echoes of advice I was given at a baby shower for Henry run through my mind that night as I brushed my teeth:

“Say ‘Yes’ as often as you can and save ‘No’ for the times when it really matters.”

I’ll try.

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