"It's Fourth of July!"
A few years ago, a friend bought a tablecloth from me for his wife’s birthday present. He gave me a long, long list of scriptures, names, and (my personal favorite) inside jokes to put all over the tablecloth. Beside all of the inside jokes, he offered a little explanation for each one in order to give me some context for the quotes before I lettered the tablecloth. On that list was this phrase: “It’s Fourth of July!” with the explanation, “This is what we always say when we decide to say yes to the kids about something, even if it’s not Fourth of July.” I liked this idea so much that Tyler and I say it all the time now, too.
What does, “It’s Fourth of July!” really mean? These are the little parenting decisions you make along the way that may not be the wisest of ideas, but they are the memorable or fun ones:
“Should we go get ice cream at 10:00 on a school night?” “IT’S FOURTH OF JULY!”
“Should we let the kids put on swimsuits and play outside in the rain?” “IT’S FOURTH OF JULY!”
“Should we shirk the yard work and cleaning house Saturday that we had planned and head out on a road trip instead?” “IT’S FOURTH OF JULY!”
Of course, every day can’t be FOURTH OF JULY, but these moments come around more often when we are open to the possibility. A little spontaneous, sugar-induced celebration is always a good break to a monotonous week.
One of my favorite people in the world once told me that the secret to parenting is to say yes as much as you possibly can. This is the same sort of principle to FOURTH OF JULY. When I turn my heart to saying yes as often as possible to my kids, then I am forced to engage, forced to put down my selfishness, and reminded that kids get told no so many times.
“Mom, can I build a blanket fort? Mom, can I make pancakes? Mom, can build something out of this extra wood? Mom, can we go on a bike ride? Mom, can I play the drums now? Mom, can you read a book to me?”
Are these things unsafe? Nah.
Are they morally wrong? Of course not.
Are all of these things time consuming? Yes.
Are they inconvenient? Absolutely.
Are they messy and maybe annoying? Probably.
My tendency to say no comes from not wanting my day disrupted, not wanting to help in the kitchen, not wanting to clean up a mess. So whenever I can, even if I don’t want to at the time, I try to say yes. I still have to say no to a lot of things. In fact, my kids will preface things by saying, “I know you will probably say no to this…” or “This might be a dumb question, but…” because they get told no so often. I like to give them as many YES! answers as I possibly can.
Do you struggle to say yes to your kids? What’s something your kid has been begging to do lately? Surprise that kid with a YES! this weekend. Good luck!