Ink pen on your arms? No. Paint on the table? No. Another layer of clothes? No. Playing in the sink? No. Playing in the cookie dough? No. Playing with the ink pad? No. Playing with the unfolded laundry? No. Playing with food? No. Painting with your hands (elbows, arms, and chin)? No.
It is easy to say no. Easy to be the one in “control” and then lament over my child never asking permission, just doing stuff I don’t want her to, and seeming “bored” with my sanctioned activities. But lately a big lesson I am learning is to Say Yes!
Why not color on your arm so you can have a tattoo like Papa? It washes off in the bath and is super fun ( I remember doing it!). Our table is washable, our paint is washable… and it is just stuff! So sure, use the table as a palate. Ink pad? Kids are washable, strip her down and let her put finger prints all over her belly! Why not?! and painting your whole body… this just resulted in endless laughter, tickling with a paintbrush and, now, an awesome bright blue bath.
I want control and I am realizing more and more that I don’t have it even if I want to try and grip as tight as I can. I am also seeing a change in my little firecracker. The more I say Yes! and encourage the asking… the more she asks and listens to my answers instead of just DOING.
And the joy? The sheer and totally overwhelming JOY about getting to decide what she does and how she will do it. The elation of making her own art project and not just sticking to the ones that I lay out? It is so beautiful.
I could easily become the Mama that just says “no.” to nearly everything, and when I do and then ask myself “why can’t she do that?” it is usually only fueled by my own laziness ( I don’t want to wash her off, I don’t want to explain it to someone, I don’t want to risk my house looking less than perfect) and pride, not my desire to let her grow-learn-explore and be her.
Taking this step into Yes! is hard and awesome. My girl is creative, inspiriting and changing every day.
I love getting to know her in all her two and (almost) a half year old glory. What a gem.