The world’s a playground. You know that when you are a kid, but somewhere along the way everyone forgets it. ~ Zoey Deschanel’s character in “Yes Man”
Day 1 of my experiment was interesting to say the least. I knew many of the “No”s of early parenthood, but I forgot the garden variety older child “No”s which appear to come just as often. Those Nos usually involve money, and accompany statements like “No you cannot buy a $10 piece of fake dog poop to try and spoof your Mima,” or “No, spending $500 on a cell phone when you have a perfectly good one still in contract is definitely out of the question.”
So when I entered into my newfound world of parenting with Yes you can imagine what I found. Some may believe I was safe that first afternoon when all we were doing was traveling from airport to airport, but
No I mean Yes, … oh forget it. I was not safe from that all-too-familiar negative response that apparently slides way too easily from my lips where my children are concerned. That place is just brimming with opportunities to spend Mom and Dad’s money, and thus opportunities to say No abound.
I avoided a guaranteed “No” by planning to have dinner at the airport. My kids always ask to eat out, and Mark and I usually don’t want to so … Yay, me on that one! But the “No”s still came.
“No Shea, please don’t transfer your soda from glass to glass.” Damn! He stopped before I had time to change my answer. (But really, would I have said “Yes” to that one? It was just bad manners.) Then another one escaped … “No thanks Shea, I don’t want to try one of your tater-tots.” Shoot! I did it again. Thank God Shea countered with a … “But it’s really good.” So I took the tot with a great big smile on my face and popped it in my mouth. Yes! I made it out of the restaurant feeling as if I had this yes thing all figured out. Then five minutes later I was dodging inevitable “No”s left and right. I hadn’t anticipated being thrust into one of those airport shops that carries everything from magazines and books, to sweatshirts and toys, and SNACKS! A parental smorgasbord of “NO!”
Immediately Mark and Max headed to the snack mixes. Phew! I was safe from a “No” there. Mark had his own money, but as I turned to grab myself a bottle of water from the cooler I was greeted by a sweet looking 10-year-old, grinning innocently, and again with the big brown puppy-dog eyes.
“Mom, can I get one of those squiggly creatures shown on the TV screen there,” Shea crooned, pointing to the flat-screened displayed on top of a rack of 80s era squiggly worm things. “It’s only five bucks.”
Without much thought my tongue rested itself on the roof of my mouth, preparing for the N in N-O, but before any sound could escape my lips, Shea added, “I have my own money.”
Phew! “Yes, if that’s what you want to spend your money on,” I said beaming triumphantly. And Shea happily skipped off to pay for his new squiggly friend on a string.
Feeling rather proud of my Yes moment I turned to admire a few of the Yale and Harvard sweatshirts on a rack behind me, oblivious that someone had been stalking me. That’s when she pounced. Apparently she had been waiting leopard-like and camouflaged next to a shelf of the latest and greatest novels.
“Mom, can I please get one of these books. It sounds so good. I really want this book. Oh, and look if you buy it here and then return it to one of these airport stores,” McKenna said holding up some sort of brochure, “then you get 50 percent off your next purchase. You literally trade it in.”
My “No” was met with Kenna’s brief look of defeat, then a glimmer appeared in her eyes and I knew what was coming next, so I intervened. “Don’t you have a Kindle filled with a whole slew of books in the archives?” I asked.
“Yeah but … ” There it was, the dreaded “yeahbut.” I didn’t even listen to her long-winded explanation. It had only been an hour and I had already failed my “Yes Experiment.” Several “No”s to Shea (although a couple were quickly remedied), and now I was telling my 12-year-old “No” to, of all things, reading a book.
Ever the keen observer, Kenna must have caught my distressed look, because the next words out of her mouth were, “Really. You’re a parent and you’re saying ‘No’ to reading a book.” Hmmm. My wheels began to turn, and I realized there was an out to this situation that would quickly turn my “No” into a “Yes” without throwing a dime in my daughter’s direction.
“Yeah, your right,” I said, giving myself one of those invisible pats on the back for a job well done. “I don’t care if you get the book, but you have to ask your father.”
There, I had said “Yes” and still hadn’t loosened my purse strings a bit. Let Mr. Frugal deal with that one. To my surprise Mr. Frugal said “Yes,” but who cares. Everyone left the store none the worse, and I still had “yes.”
My next test came while waiting for our plane.
“Mom,” Shea said. “Do you have a pencil?”
Silence hung in the air while I thought about that for a while. I’m not sure if I have a pencil … I do have a pen! I’m pretty sure. Wait. Yes, I think I do have a pencil in my bag, but if I don’t I still have that pen.
“Yes, I think I do have a pencil in my bag,” I finally answered. “But if there isn’t I do have a pen.” Yes (with a double fist pump)! I had avoided the N-word once again. If there was a National Club of Yessers out there, then I was well on my way to gaining membership with that one. (There was no pencil to be found in that bag by the way.)
The plane ride was a little easier … I had decided to watch the entire “Yes Man” movie that, until now, I had only seen snippets of. Shea joined me, and then stopped and gave me his headphones, much better than the ones I was wearing and they didn’t hurt my ears. Thank you, Shea. My ear satisfaction didn’t last for long. A little while later Shea asked for them back. I began to say, “No” but stopped myself, handed him the headphones and 20 minutes later was pleading with him to give them back to me because the little earbuds were bruising the inside of my ears.
No deal (oops) He did not make a deal with me.
Next my daughter asked me to help her with her math homework. Gulp! I said, of course, yes. Now I should tell you my daughter and I don’t do well in homework helping situations, especially math. It usually ends up with a lot of frustration and tears, but I was game if she was.
The first few problems weren’t bad. I could figure out those with
no little problem, and so could she.
Then we came to this problem: I knew the answer was A, McKenna chose D. I asked her to explain why and she couldn’t. Then she asked me to explain my choice, and as I started to explain I realized I was babbling and nothing was making sense. “Oh, forget it,” Kenna said frustrated, and circled a random answer. And here is where my dreaded mistake occurred.
In typical mom fashion I began to lecture her. Right there on the plane about not giving up, trying harder, to have confidence in her math skills … and she started to cry. I wish I’d said, “No!” to the whole homework thing.
Thankfully, we landed a few minutes later, and everyone’s excited reignited. We deboarded, and then headed to baggage claim.
“You and the kids go get the bags,” I said to Mark, “and I’ll go get the rental car.”
I quickly made it to the Budget counter. Yes, no one in line. Things were looking good.
“Do you have your reservation?” the man behind the counter asked.
“Yes!” I answered cheerfully, and handed it over.
“Do you have a credit card?” Another Yes.
“Hey nice picture,” he said admiring the photo of my family and me on our CapitalOne charge. “And your license?”
“Ye … ,” I paused. Oh crap, where did my license go? I looked through my wallet, NO license. I glanced in my overflowing carry-on bag. Ugh!
The man behind the counter saved me from embarrassing myself and dumping the contents of my bag all over the counter with a simple, “We’re here all night.”
I got the hint and turned away from the counter, dropped to the floor, and emptied the entire contents of my bag tampons and all, right there in the middle of the airport a mere five feet away from the counter. That should have been embarrassing in and of itself but I was too panic stricken to mind. My license had disappeared and the last place I remember having it was at security — in CONNECTICUT!!!
I called Mark up on the cell, and we switched places. After retrieving the bags we met him back downstairs by the rental counters. He didn’t have good news.
“The reservation is in your name, so they won’t give it to me. We have to find your license,” he informed me.
And that’s when the waterfall began, and I lost it. I couldn’t look. I couldn’t speak, and all I kept thinking was that these rental Nazis really needed a Yes Experiment of their own right now.
Long story short: Mark found my license (in my wallet!), I got back in line, and went through my list of Yeses again, but slipped with a “No” when they asked if I wanted to upgrade for only $10 a day more. Well the Gods of Yes must have been watching, because I was dreading that yes as soon as we saw the tripped out Crown Vic awaiting us is space D7. Double Crap!
Did I learn my lesson though?
No Sir-ee! Not at all. The navigation wasn’t working so we didn’t now where to go. Mark told me to just keep driving, I answered with an unquestionable “NO, I’m not getting lost in Orlando at 11 at night.”
He got snippy back, and the stress was running high. I think there was some yelling, and then Max asks very innocently from the back seat, “Can you turn on the radio?”
Without hesitation Mark and I both answered him in unison, “NOOOOOOO!!!!!”
The next hour or so went by very slowly (and quietly), and it gave me plenty of time to think about how horrible this experiment of mine was turning out already. I needed to find a Yes, and I needed it fast, but in a car of non-talkers questions were hard to come by, and thus so were the Yeses.
An hour later we arrived at our destination. The kids piled out of the car nearly sprinting into Mima and Papa’s house for refuge from their parents. Mark and I dragged in behind, gave our hugs hello, dropped our luggage in our rooms, and then came out to visit before crashing.
And that’s when my Yes opportunity presented itself.
“You want a drink?” my father asked. Or maybe I just imagined him saying that. Nonetheless, I poured myself a nice glass of Chardonnay at midnight, and plunked myself in the rocking chair.
Hopefully tomorrow would be better.