OK, so I had to come clean with my 8 year old and give her an interpretation of the statement, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” I told her that anytime she hears this in the future, she should just interpret it to mean, “No!” And, seriously, I need to learn that lesson too. When did it become easier for me to make things an option for my kids than to just say, “No?”
A couple of examples from last week that prompted me to share this with you:
While packing up her back pack for school, she puts her sheet music from her private music teacher in her homework folder. When I asked her about it she explained that she often likes to sing at indoor recess. I highly doubted that she did, and said, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” I assumed she would take the music out, throw it on her school desk and come home without it. I was right. She forgot the music at school so did not have a copy to take to her lesson that evening. I was justified in giving her an “I told you so,” but it didn’t help at lessons that night.
The next day, she came downstairs wearing a too-tight pencil skirt& high heeled sandals. It was about 30 degrees out. Remembering to “pick my battles” I reasoned that her Dad was driving her to school that day and I always meet her at the bus stop after school, so really, she’d only be outside in the cold for a very short time. But, I did say, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” She assured me she was comfortable and wanted to wear that favorite skirt one last time before passing it on.
That day I was giving a talk at a Mothers of Preschoolers group on “Being Bravely You.” I explained that Mothering takes a lot of bravery. We have to be brave to let go and to let our children make their own choices as they get the opportunity to so that when they are older, we can be brave and watch them go. I even spoke about how brave we have to be to let our children choose small things and even how we have to bravely watch them fail sometimes. I mentioned Kaylee’s pencil skirt and high heels that morning and how I had to be brave to let her Dad drive off that very morning.
Fast forward to Bus pick up time. My husband was spreading limestone on our mud filled driveway, so I wasn’t able to drive the car to the end of the lane. I walked out to meet the bus. The day had warmed some, but was still pretty chilly when she stepped off the bus. In her heels she wasn’t able to navigate over the large chunks of new limestone that now donned our lane. She was cold and wanted to hurry home, but couldn’t. Knowing I was partially to blame for her choices, I decided to carry her on my back, but with the tight pencil skirt, she was unable to straddle my back. I had to pick her up in my arms to carry her up the hill and out of sight of the cars driving by. When we were out of view, I hiked her skirt up to her waist (to her horror!) and made her climb on my back to make the trek the rest of the way to the house. We were quite a sight with her cold, bare legs dangling and my huffing and puffing as I ran.
What does “I don’t think that’s a good idea” mean? Doesn’t it really mean that we already know it’s not? As Kaylee and I try to learn to equate “I don’t think that’s a good idea” with “NO!” I hope you’ll challenge yourself to review what you mean when you say it and then spare yourself the grief and just say it. “No.” “Don’t do that!” “It’s NOT a good idea!”