Today someone sent me a link to Stacey Conner’s blog “Is There Any Mommy Out There?”, presumably because her latest blog post is not only hilarious, but also practically guaranteed to make my left eye twitch for most of the day.
If you don’t have time to read it, she’s talking about this new horrible phenomenon called “Yes Day” that is apparently running rampant through the ranks of those mommies who want their kids to be their friends, all the time, forever.
Yes Day! is a children’s book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. I’m going out on a limb here and assume that Amy Krouse Rosenthal doesn’t have children, or else she perhaps has one child, the kind that rigidly adheres to order and rules.
It’s just what you think it is – a day where every question a child asks is answered with a “yes”. Pizza for breakfast? Yes. Ice cream sandwiches in front of the TV? Yes.
In the book, it’s just a delightful day of whimsy and joy with puppies riding unicorns and (presumably) parents re-discovering the magic and wonder of childhood.
In reality, I think we all know where this would end. Especially if you have multiple children.
Look, my kids never stop asking questions NOW. And that’s without the explicit understanding that they would always hear a “yes” in return.
I feel about this book the way I feel about some of those posts going around right now where moms plead for an end to yelling. I read one just the other day where the mom had asked her son – repeatedly – to iron his shirt and get in the van for a trip to somewhere important. The kid refused to iron said shirt and when they were finally all in the vehicle, she looked in the rearview mirror and saw a surly kid and a still-wrinkled shirt. I don’t give a shit about ironing – the last time I used my iron it was to make crayon-shaving stained glass pictures – but I do care about kids listening when they are given instructions. This mom’s reaction was just what mine would have been; she removed the kid from the car and held him firmly by the arm while she pointed him at the house and told him to iron. that. shirt.
The difference is that I would not have been so overcome by angst and guilt when the kid sprang forth with crocodile tears that I said “never mind about the shirt!”, hugged the kid, and then wrote a long blog post about how every child is a miracle.
Do I yell? Sure do, when it’s necessary. I have my Stern Mommy Voice and I employ it, thanks. Do I say “no” to my kids? Good lord, all the damn time. But I also say “yes” a lot, too. My kids are in Little League, they take swimming lessons, they often get dessert if they eat their dinner and we go to restaurants a couple of times a month. They have thirty squillion pieces of Lego and this summer when we go on vacation they’re getting to run the bases at Rogers Centre. I’ve memorized I don’t know how many books from repeat readings on demand and I can sing the theme songs to several kids’ shows.
I don’t feel like my kids are deprived of fun moments and good times even though bedtime is non-negotiable and they aren’t allowed to eat as much candy as they want.
This stuff drives me nuts. The standards that competi-mommies set for parenting are, I would argue, not achievable; not only that, I don’t want to live in a world full of people who had their every desire satisfied while never being accountable for their actions.
I mean, how on earth do you raise little kids if you’re never going to deny them anything? It makes no sense. Sure, today they want pizza for breakfast, and why the hell not? But tomorrow they might want to play with matches. Next week they’ll want to stay up until midnight, every night. In ten years they’ll want to take the car without asking. Learning to cope with disappointment and denial is a key part of development.
As for the yelling… well. Sometimes I need to yell, just to be heard over the din. Sometimes, I need for them to understand that I mean business, I am not fooling around, you get that fork out of that light socket RIGHT NOW. Sometimes, I lose my temper because if an adult talked to me like that, they would get the rough side of my tongue. But I can’t imagine what would happen to my stress levels if I never outwardly expressed anger. There isn’t enough chocolate in the world to keep that under wraps until my kids leave home.
What do you think? Would you give your kids a whole day where their every wish was granted? And do you yell?