When Little Dude learned to talk, I eagerly awaited each addition to his vocabulary. I catalogued new words and phrases, carefully preserving mispronunciations and grammatical errors. "Pick mine up," "aminals," and "fwirrels" (squirrels) gave way to more complex thoughts like "Caterpillars make raccoons" and "I want to be a doctor so I can whomp kids' bottoms." (Don't worry, that last one was inspired by multiple readings of "The Butt Book," and not by a sadistic pediatrician).
The two new sentences Little Dude has added to his repertoire aren't parts of his history I feel like recording, though. Hearing my kid say, "You're not nice to me," and "Mommy, I'd be more happier if you'd say 'yes,'" doesn't make me chuckle as much as his early miscues.
I know Little Dude pulls out these guilt-inducing declarations when I won't give him something he wants. That's fine -- I'm still not letting him play with knives, eat an entire bag of candy, or give the dog a haircut with Dad's electric razor. Still, I've been more willing to say "no" lately than I like to admit. I shoot down innocuous requests because they're mildly inconvenient for me, or because I'm tired, or because I'd rather be doing something else.
So Little Dude may have a point. I've been a drag.
After a particularly frustrating battle over finger painting before dinner, I started wondering if it would be so bad if I started saying yes more often? Would Little Dude become an incorrigible brat if I let him have another cookie or stay up for five extra minutes? Or might everything be a little more fun if I lightened up and tried to remember the joy of hearing "yes"?
There was only one way to find out. I decided to hold a "YES DAY."
For one day, I would let Little Dude call the shots, and I would say "yes." So long as his request wouldn't hurt him or someone else, he could do it. I was curious to see what a day would look like if it was driven by what Little Dude wanted, instead of what I would allow.
Little Dude wakes up and starts calling for me. Crap, I'm looking at a solid twelve hours of Yes'ing. This experiment seemed like a better idea last night when I was drinking a glass of wine and catching up on "Justified." I drag myself out of bed and shoot Sleeping Husband a dirty look. He doesn't notice. He's sleeping.
Little Dude is dressed in an ugly button-down shirt that he loves because he thinks it looks like one Sleeping Husband wears. I've been trying to disappear this shirt for weeks. He wants to wear it. Yes.
Little Dude wants to watch TV and eat breakfast in the big bed. No problem. I'm secretly ok with this because it means I can wake up Sleeping Husband. Yes.
After Curious George, Babar and Super Why, Little Dude now hates his spiffy shirt. Perhaps it pales in comparison to Babar's sartorial splendor. He wants a different one. Yes.
In the past forty-five minutes I've indulged Little Dude's obsession with shiny things by letting him go through my jewelry box to accessorize my pajamas. We've read his baby book, folded the laundry, unfolded the laundry, sung a song, and colored on a report I brought home from work (I can still read the most important words through the drawing of skyscrapers, but I definitely can not let my colleagues see this).
While we're drawing, Little Dude says, "Mommy, you can do whatever you want, and I can do whatever I want." It is entirely possible that he's already onto me. Is that okay? Yes.
Instead of brushing his teeth in the bathroom, he asks if he can walk around on the landing with me brushing our teeth together. Yes.
We've moved on to blocks and I'm dutifully following instructions to build a sawmill, a car and houses. Little Dude is giggling. Surprisingly, so am I. Can we build more? Yes.
I don't know why he wants a bath this morning, but I'm inspired to throw in bubbles for fun. Little Dude wants to know what his birthmarks are, so we compare "spots." The sun coming through the window lights up his skin. He is lovely. He wants to stay in the bath for a half an hour. Yes.
Shriveled, but clean, The Boy Who Can Do Whatever He Wants wants lunch. He chooses a single cracker, a peanut butter granola bar, and a chocolate granola bar. He asks if he can eat on the floor and skip carrots. Yes.
We start to make banana bread, but quickly get distracted. He asks if he can sweep the floor. (I'm not making that up - he also likes to empty the dishwasher and do laundry. I wish I could harness his love of cleaning and save it for when he's a teenager.) Yes.
My first real slip. I tell him he can't use the big broom to do the sweeping. He senses I've broken the rules. I backtrack and cross my fingers, hoping he doesn't break anything. Yes.
He's definitely on to me. Abandoning sweeping, he's been running in circles around the first floor making "Vroom" noises for the past 10 minutes. After every lap he looks at me to see of he can keep running until he crashes. Yes.
He asks if he can skip his nap today. Yes. Little Dude throws his arms around me and tells me that I'm the best mom ever. This is so much better than running errands.
A birthday party! Two hours where someone else is in charge. My only job will be to make sure he doesn't hit anyone in the head with a rhythm stick. He drops my hand and races for the toys. I grab a glass of wine - I've earned it.
On the way home, I take stock of the party damage. One large chocolate milk, two juice boxes, pizza, a very large cupcake, two packets of fruit snacks, chips, crackers, and copious amounts of seltzer water. I remind myself again that his body will be able to rebound from a sugar overdose.
But we're past naptime, however, and things could get ugly quickly.
Little Dude wants to play in the TV room, but my Patient Stepson is studying for midterms. I ask Patient Stepson if he can relocate. He says yes. I say yes to Little Dude.
You want movies and popcorn? Yes! You want to watch "The Rescuers," my least favorite Disney movie of all time? Yes! We snuggle up together on the couch. I'm rewarded for my patience by his request for "Despicable Me" when "The Rescuers" ends.
Awake Husband is back from the gym and who am I to say no when Little Dude asks to play with his dad? I try to sneak off to make a healthy dinner, but Little Dude stops wrestling long enough to ask for pepperoni pizza. Of course he does. This kid is good. Yes.
In a post-dinner carbohydrate coma, we head upstairs for bed. He asks me to read an obscene number of books before bed and we read until my voice is scratchy. As I tuck him in, Little Dude looks at me and says, "Mommy, today was a good day."
I agree. Yes. Yes it was.
When I go to bed, I remember the very first word Little Dude was able to say. It was "Yes." And he drew it out in a long, positive affirmation of almost everything around him. "Yeeeesssss!"