“Yes” is the parenting topic of the week, inspired by (a) Sunday’s roller skating jaunt, (b) more snow, more inevitable messes, and (c) my recent viewing of The Boys are Back which stars chameleon-like, cool customer Clive Owen as a fictionalized version of memoirist Simon Carr. After the death of his wife, Carr found himself sole parent in a house with two boys and instead of bogging them down with piles of rules he took the path of least resistance; wherever possible, he eliminated the negative, embracing a “just say yes” approach to his semi-desperation parenting.
I’d recommend the movie (and this piece about the movie by Carr himself), my favorite part of which was Carr’s suggestion that if his son stood under the clothesline to dress and stood in the washing machine to undress that they’d have a perfect laundry system. And hey, who of us cannot relate?
I’m not sure whether I fall into the “just say yes” parenting camp (more on that later this week), but I have described my son as a “long leash” kind of kid. When he was smaller, I kept a pretty short leash on him (not literally—oh my!), correcting him pretty frequently, kind of breathing down his neck to stay put, keep quiet, get to sleep, stay clean (what was I thinking?), and generally avoid being run over, burned, injured around the head or neck, rushed to the emergency room, or placed on a poison control frequent customer poster. Then I realized that the frustration of my breathing down his neck wasn’t giving him the freedom to make the right choices, learn from his mistakes, or pretty much do what kids do because they’re kids and it’s perfectly all right for them to do it. I lengthened the leash, started closing my mouth (and sometimes my eyes), and with the frustration (his and mine) gone, we all got along a lot better.
So, while I may not let my children dive into motel bathtubs like Carr did, I do let them empty out the pantry and mix up whatever concoction they’d like. I don’t let them walk on our semi-frozen lake, but I do let them run in the snow in their bare feet. And while I don’t let them climb out the window and onto the roof, I really don’t have to—because their Dad has already let them do that. And, boy, do we love him for that.