It’s the word most often used by children, an easy, mono-syllable that’s fun and expressive. We’re brainwashed to it at a young age from parents and teachers. There’s a whole campaign telling us to just say it. Whatever the reason, one thing is for certain; my kids certainly know how to say, “No.”
“Michael, it’s time to get up.”
“Julius, did you brush your teeth?”
“Tyler, do you know where your homework is?”
This morning, I’m finally leaving the nursery school after some harrowing negotiations with Julius.
“I don’t want to go to school today!” Floppy-curled, chubby-cheeked four year-old stands tough.
“I’m picking you up in just a few hours.”
“You have to go.”
I had a 9:15 spin class and didn’t want a battle this morning. He was going. I was late. There was only one thing left for me to do… bribery. Yup. Plain and simple. I got low and whispered in his ear. “Go now and I’ll take you to the candy store at pick-up.” I threw some sugar on the sugar, “You can pick out TWO things!”
Julius easily took the bait. We were both solid candy addicts. With a big hug, I was out. Genius parenting, right there.
I maneuvered my way through children and moms like an all-star obstacle course racer, waving here and there, trying to quickly get to my car without stopping. I was outside, almost there, when the Rabbi spotted me and beckoned me to him. I had a momentary fight or flight reaction; I wanted to run to the car. First, because I was going to miss my gym class and second, because nothing good can come from our conversing. I have a long history of inappropriate commentary, but when the Rabbi beckons, one can only submit. So I take one last longing look at my escape vehicle just feet away and walk over. So close.
As it turns out, it was worse than me embarrassing myself.
Rabbi – “I was wondering if I could count on you to get a little more involved in the Hebrew School.”
Me (Smiling painfully, nodding in the negative and backing slowly away) – “I have a lot on my plate right now.”
Rabbi – “Yes, yes, I know you do a lot for the nursery school but it’s time you transitioned your efforts.”
Oh no, he was using Rabbi mind games on me, it was like the Force, only stronger! I felt myself nodding up and down in agreement.
By the time I got into my car, I had no idea what I had agreed to.
On the elliptical machine at the gym (yes, I missed my class) a friend from the elementary school approached and asked if I would help out on a volunteer project for the kids.
“I don’t know.” I demurred. “I’m already over-extended.”
She assured me it was nothing. Cake. Just need a name to put down.
Again I found myself nodding. I was going to have to consider wiring my head to my neck.
Finished with exercise, I stopped at the supermarket and the dry cleaners for Howard, then home for a shower before nursery pick-up. My phone rings. It’s my father. He needs me to call a doctor for him and maybe figure out this problem he’s been having with his home health aide. He’s in a decent mood, which is a plus, but I sigh and add the chore to my list.
I go to pick-up Julius, checking my emails while I wait. There’s already one from the head of the volunteer committee, the “name only” gig. Uh oh. I’m distracted when Julius runs out with a hug intended to knock me over and almost succeeds.
“Hey! Did you have a good day?” I ask.
Of course not.
“So, do you want to go to the candy store?”
“YES!!” came his exuberant reply, accompanied by another knock down hug.
Finally, a yes from my boy! Now here’s a kid who knows his mind. I think about it. He’s a genius. He simply says “yes” to what he wants, and “no” to what he doesn’t. What a concept!
Hmmm… I wonder if I’m going to learn anything from this?