“Probably some of the best things that have ever happened to you in life, happened because you said yes to something. Otherwise things just sort of stay the same.” ~ Danny Wallace
I woke up at 7:15 on Day #2 of my Yes Experiment. It was our first full day in Florida and I had the urge to roll over and go back to sleep and bask in the fact that I had absolutely nothing I had to do. I must have asked myself subconsciously if I should get up and then subconsciously answered, “Yes” because a silent force was pulling me out of bed, towards the kitchen, and towards a big cup of Hazelnut coffee from mom and dad’s Keurig.
I had just settled down with my coffee and had begun reading some more of “Yes Man,” which according to my Kindle I was 71 percent through reading, when Max, sans medication, spinning off the walls and excited to get on with his Florida vacation, asked me if I wanted to go for a walk. I looked at my coffee in hand and my Kindle, and gave him an annoyed look. “No, I’m drinking my coffee.”
Oh shit. Good thing Max didn’t give up that easily. “Come on. We’re in Florida. It’s our first day. Let’s go.” I’m pretty sure he added a “Chop, Chop” in there somewhere. Ugh. As he continued to plead with me I thought of my Yes Experiment. I was not off to a very good start, but I could remedy that with only one word.
“Yes,” I said, holding up my cup of coffee. “But can I just finish this and then have my second cup of coffee?”
Apparently Max hadn’t begun his own YES Experiment because he said “No, you can’t have another coffee.” But he let me finish the one I was drinking. Thank you, Master Max.
“This is the beginning of getting you in shape,” he said as we got out the door. “I’ll be like you personal trainer.”
OK. I had been trying to lose a few pounds and get in shape, and thus far had impeded that process with a whole bunch of “No”s and lame excuses. So yes, I could do this. But I wasn’t prepared for what came next.
“Let’s run,” Max said.
“Um, No,” I replied all too fast. Max heckled me a little bit and then as I walked on, Max began to run several yards ahead and then turn and run back to me. He’d walk a little, run a little. As I watched him I began to rethink that earlier no. Afterall it really wasn’t in the spirit of the experiment was it? So I decided that I would run with Max, but I suggested an alternative.
“Why don’t we run between signs,” I suggested.
So for the remainder of our walk Max would walk alongside me, pick out a sign up ahead, and then tell me when we got there to start jogging, and then stop at the next sign. So I did, and we actually had some fun, even though I am SEVERELY out of shape. Maybe this yes thing could finally get me off my butt and into shape. Was this an opportunity to stay connected to my almost teen-aged son?
When we returned home my second cup of coffee and my Kindle were still there waiting for me. Really, I thought, I was afraid to put this aside for some time with my son? I had to do better with my Yeses. Apparently I had become so jaded or cynical or grumpy in my nearly 13 years as a parent that the “No”s came far more easily than Yes, and were far outweighing the Yeses when it came to my kids. No was popping out of my mouth before their questions even had a chance to register in my brain. Come on Kelly, you can do this.
The rest of the morning I sat back and said nothing as Mark, usually the master of the Yeses, became The King of NO.
“No, I’m not coming outside to play ball with you. Your brother has his glove with him.”
“No, stop going in the neighbors yard or you’ll have to come inside.”
“No I’m not telling Max to get out of the road and go have a pass with Shea and McKenna. He’ll figure it out.”
“No, I’m not telling the kids how to play with each other. If they can’t figure that out, they’re in trouble.”
Did we as parents know any other word? Yikes.
I had to intervene. I had to practice my Yes skills before this day became overshadowed by NO. I didn’t have to wait long for that opportunity.
“Can I go watch Papa play bocce?” Max asked as my dad prepared to head down to the rec center for his league.
“Yes,” I said. “Just ask Papa if it’s OK.”
The No came fast and quite grumpily, and I couldn’t help but feel bad for Max (which doesn’t happen often.) But I was the YES MOM. I could turn this around with one simple word … or a sentence that meant the same thing. “I can bring you down in a little while to watch,” I said.
Smiles abounded, but we didn’t end up going to bocce because shortly thereafter Mima asked Mark and the boys if they wanted to go to the batting cage, and they said YES! I was planning on saying yes, too, but nobody asked me so I just stayed home and blogged.
But not asking me started to become the theme of the day. When we got to the pool and the boys went to play pickle ball, they didn’t ask me to play. And when they went in the pool, they asked Mark to come in, and not me.
Had my persistent “No”s over the years resulted in my kids ruling me out of the many opportunities to have fun with them?
I ended up going into the pool on my own, and Kenna and Shea and I did end up having fun, but I really needed to put my Yeses into better use.
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful with little occasion for Yes, until Max asked me to go play tennis before dinner. “Yes,” I said immediately. “I will.”
The whole family set out to the recreation center down the road, and Max and I headed to the tennis courts, while everyone else went to play bocce. Kenna joined us a little while later, and Max became bored with tennis, and went to get the pickleball equipment.
“Do you want to play?” Max asked.
I didn’t, but I said yes anyway, but first I had to put the tennis equipment away. On my way back from the equipment shed I sat down on a bench to take in a little of the intense bocce match occurring on the court: Mark and Shea vs. Mima and Papa.
Soon I forgot about pickleball, which was OK until Kenna quit and Max became insistent on recruiting me as his partner. It was hot and muggy, and the bocce game was almost over and I was in for the next game.
I decided I could avoid a No by putting Max off for a while.
“In a little while,” I said. “I want to watch this.”
The requests became more and more persistent, and Max became angry. Finally someone told him to put the pickleball equipment away we were all going to play the next bocce game together.
Max was pissed.
My wishy-washy Yes had become a definite No and he was disappointed and angry which only escalated the situation. I won’t go into great detail, but Max ended up sitting in the golf cart for a while until we dragged him over to shuffleboard when we got kicked off the bocce courts, and he perked up.
The whole situation left a bad taste in my mouth, and I began to understand why my kids requests for me to do things had been limited that day. Even when I said Yes I couldn’t be counted on to follow through, and a false Yes was even worse than a definite NO!
I had to turn this Yes experiment around and fast!