Tuesday, March 16, 2010
When my husband got home yesterday I met him at the door with my tennis shoes on. A quick kiss and a baby hand-off and I headed up the road for a quick run. Usually I don’t run at the end of the day. I don’t like having to shuffle along with a day’s worth of poor food choices sloshing around inside. But it was 55 degrees and sunny and I had depleted all stores of loving kindness so it was in everyone’s best interest that I take a spin around the block. Endorphins kicked in early, supplemented by the shear joy of solitude and the daily mid-afternoon re-caffeine. I sped along in my mind, Chariots of Fire playing and the wind at my back. It was glorious.
Huffing and puffing and satisfied I walked from the ‘finish line’ at the bottom of our hill towards the house, singing praises and swinging my arms from side to side. As I rounded the corner I saw Sis, in her bathing suit on the sidewalk under the kitchen window. She was grinning ear to ear, water running off her head and the sparkling Tinkerbelle tutu of her suit to pool in water shoes three sized too big. I stopped to take in the scene. The weather was nice but it surely wasn’t summer. I would have expected a soggy child outside to be crying. “Aren’t you freezing, Sis?” I asked, confused. Then I noticed the water spraying out of the kitchen window. “No, Dad is spraying me with warm water.” Indeed, a steady stream of warm water was cascading out through the screen and I could make out the silhouette of a man with a baby on his back.
I know for a fact Sis would never dare to ask me to stand at the window and shoot water through the wall on a crisp Spring day. Just like she wouldn’t ask me if she could take a bath in the kitchen sink after the baby. Or wear her pajamas to the park. I am the parent who says no. But her dad, who still is semi-serious about being a Rally Car racer, is the parent who says yes. In fact, he would say that ‘Yes’ is one of his official parenting philosophies. He heard someone of merit speak on the topic before she was even a twinkle in his eye and he decided then and there that he was going to be a ‘Yes’ man. The speaker had suggested that ‘No’ is generally overused, because parents are busy or tired, imagination and adventure squeezed out of them the day they were measured for their first tailored suit. He suggested that ‘No’ needs to be reserved for the big stuff. That we should answer our children as our Heavenly Father answers us. With a wide grin and a ‘Yes’ every time we can. Giving good gifts and memories that last. And using the small, spontaneous moments to tell our children that we can be trusted when we actually say ‘No’.
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11