Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Saying "yes" when you really want to say "no"

Saying "yes" when you really want to say "no"
4 September 2012

I think one of the toughest things about being a parent is letting go and allowing your kids to bump their heads.  My job is to protect them and guide them.  And I think that there is a very fine line between wanting to protect them, as opposed to stifling them and who they are.  Or who they’ll hopefully turn out to be one day.  I suspect I’m doing them a disservice if I try and cushion them from all of life’s blows.  We learn our best through our mistakes.  And in fact some mistakes are way too much fun to only make once.

But here’s the thing.  Whereas some mistakes are potentially merely harmful or embarrassing,  others literally risk losing life and limb.  They have to knock their own heads, but jeez it’s hard, because one can see the potential for hurt a mile off.  So do you let them?  Why, yes.  It’s the only way any of us grow.  Some knocks make us tougher, some make us even more vulnerable, some make us weary, lots of them make us embarrassed, some make us angry, some cause physical pain, some cause emotional heart ache and some make us joyful because we’ll never be that stupid again.  I mean, you only have to get drunk on Old Brown Sherry once, to know unequivocally that you never want to relive the experience again.  In most cases, a bottle of Obies is forever viewed with deep distrust for the rest of our lives.

When we go to Kleinbaai, I worry about my kids clambering on the rocks if I’m not nearby.  Some of those rocks are treacherously high and the sea is unforgiving.  I don’t like Luke going to the Mall with his buddies, because it just feels unsafe to have him wondering around.  The occasional party, cause I’m unsure of what will be happening there.  I’m nervous when they cross streets.  I have my own Jumping Castle business, yet I turn my back when Cole jumps on one of my castles.  He is absolutely fearless.  I get nervous that Amber will burn herself (or the house) when she fries an egg.  The list is endless.  So where does the cotton wool cosseting stop?  I’d hate to be one of those nervous, edgy, over protective moms that never lets their kids do anything.  So, I let them, hold my breath, cross my fingers, hope for the best and if at all possible, hover close by to offer assistance if needed.

And to be honest, sometimes, saying “no” or not letting them do something is more for my benefit than theirs.  Saying “no” to having a glass of Coke five minutes before bedtime is purely selfish on my part.  They’ll feel great and will be all hyped up, but it would severely hamper my plans for a quiet evening after their bedtime.  I try and steer them away from dodgy friendships and unwise decisions.  Encourage them to look before they leap.  To plan ahead.  To think not just of the moment, but what happens after that moment.  To think of the consequences of their actions, etc.

But then again, who am I to guide?  Did I not make a million mistakes in my past, and continue to make even a gazillion more now?  My folks must have faced the same crossroads and questions.  And as very, very young parents, I wonder if it was easier or more difficult for them.

So, I let Amber fry that egg.  Cole jumps on those Jumping Castles.  Luke goes to those parties.  They go for bicycle rides around the block and walk down to the rocks at Kleinbaai.  Cole clambers up anything that is ludicrously high and jumps back down again.  Amber occasionally gets hurt by nastiness from a so-called friend at school.  Luke makes unwise decisions.

I remember thinking my folks were such duds when they said “no” to me.  They were so out of touch.  So uncool.  So strict.  So deliberately mean.  So old fashioned.  So stuck in the mud.

But just sometimes, quite unexpectedly, my parents would say “yes” and my teenage and little girl heart would leap with excitement and joy.  I got it right!  I pulled one over them!  They did not try and stop me!  I would have my own way and get what I crave most with all of my being.

Little did I know, that my folks were actually conniving and devious till the end.  So when they said “yes” when I asked them if I could perm my hair at age 14, they had actually won and not me.  I just didn’t realise it yet.  Because years later, the photographic evidence still exists of the days when I looked like a sheep.  They truly had the last laugh.  And fair enough, in hindsight, I’m happy to admit that I really looked like an idiot.  And their concerns beforehand were justified.  They knew better.  They were right.  They had more experience, blah, blah, blah.

Now, I ask you this.  Why did they say “yes” when I asked them again when I was 16?  That was just plain mean.  They must’ve been gloating at my ignorance, just biding their time.  Waiting for me to see in adulthood, the horror of what I did to myself.  So big up, Maggie and Frank – you won this round.  I got my just desserts.  And I simply can’t wait till Amber asks me the same question.  However will I be able to resist the temptation to say “yes”?  I reckon I won’t.  Going to bag myself some awesome pics when the time comes!

There are no words. Except perhaps hidious, revolting, blindingly gross.
Make it stop!
??? Also known as the mushroom hairstyle.???

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