"Yes." I say as I sit on the kitchen floor with piles of papers, crafts, crayons, school supplies and chaos surrounding me. I'm attempting to sort through and organize all the preschool tools and resources that I had accumulated from the spring when we all retreated from our lives. Amidst the chaos, press on tattoos were spotted and quickly came the "Mommy can you put this on me?". I was standing up by this time and it was a press on tattoo so the yes was pretty easy to give. It only meant a couple minutes distraction and I could be back to my task. I sat back down in the small spot on the floor that had been created by my presence when the purge first began. In a matter of about 45 seconds, he had discovered the face paint kit. Why was this kit here with all of the educational materials you ask? Well, as much as I try to be organized in my life, sometimes a quick toss into the kitchen sideboard is the best way to clear a counter from all things family of 6.
"Mommy, can you make me a tiger?" as he pulls all of the stencils, face crayons and sponges out of the box. This is a moment where I can give my easy "not right now" or "maybe later" which the big kids remind me on occasion registers in a kids brain as "NO".
He had been playing so nicely with his dinosaurs and transformers which is what allowed me to start this project in the first place. I was trying to get through it quickly, as we were headed off to swim in a couple of hours. The "not right now buddy" was on the tip of my tongue, ready to make the leap into the air, but I caught myself.
This kid LOVES animals and has an imagination that I do not want to squash. And, what are the chances if I say "no" that I will get to finish my spontaneous project? If I say "YES" and give a whopping 5 minutes of my time to him, we will both reap the benefits of the green zone, brain and body balancing juices. This small act has the ability to connect, build trust, give a boost of serotonin and regulate the nervous system for both of us. The potential is great, if I as the adult am giving an honest yes. A yes where I am engaged and not just to get to the next item on my agenda.
So "YES" it was. He chose the tiger face stencil over superhero and bear and was a helpful participant as he wet sponges and stood the stillest that he could. Skills that all 6 year old little boys need opportunity to practice in a fun and positive scenario. When the painting was complete and he let out his best "ROAR!", he was off again to play, and I returned to finish my task.
There is a time for no, but there are many more times for YES.
Sources: Purvis, K. B., Cross, D. R., & Sunshine, W. L. (2007). The connected child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Siegel, D. J., & Bryson, T. P. (2018). The yes brain: how to cultivate courage, curiosity, and resilience in your child. First edition.