Sometimes you have to just say no…even when you really, really want to say yes. Even when it would be soooo much easier to say yes.
Brynna and I went to the bookstore a couple of months ago to get something for a class I was teaching. While I was researching, she was shopping. (Yes, I know where she gets that.) She found a small figurine of a child praying that she wanted (which I’m pretty sure was in the gift section and has an inscription about a child’s first communion). She had money she’d saved from a gift, so I told her I didn’t mind her buying one thing, but she was only allowed one thing. The problem was that she actually wanted two things – the figurine and a princess Bible. She assured me it was necessary that she get both things. The girl on the figurine was praying and the other was a Bible – that’s prayer and the Word of God – that’s important. (Yes, these were her actual arguments.) This child even had the nerve to say to me, “Mom, what’s more important? Money or Jesus?” I thought about telling her it was going to be a real easy decision when I took away all her money and Jesus was all she had left, but that seemed harsh…
I stood my ground – because that’s what you do with a strong-willed kid. You show them that some rules don’t break. You prove that you are strong enough to be the one in charge. I stood my ground, she stated her case for the imaginary court, and eventually I said, “If you can’t decide, I will decide for you. You may get the figurine or nothing. Maybe you can get the Bible another day.”
Can you see the writing on the wall…?
Last week, we had to go to the same bookstore. Before we entered, we had The Talk. You know the one…Yes, you were allowed to get something last time, but you are not getting anything today. We are here for the one thing I need and that’s it. You are not getting anything. Don’t ask me for anything. Don’t hint about why you need to get something. You are not getting anything. She repeated it back to me, but I didn’t hold my breath and we entered.
Before I’d even found the section I needed, she was back at my side. She held up a little pink Bible covered in glitter and all kinds of shiny blingy things that said “Princess Bible,” and I think the cashier across the store could feel my eyes roll. She didn’t say a word. She just held it up. (This is Brynna’s way of working the system. Correction: ONE of her ways. She wasn’t asking. She wasn’t telling me why she needed it. Technically, she was within the rules.) I told her no and she stuck out her lip. I said no again and she gave me puppy dog eyes. I told her to go put it away and reminded her she was more than welcomed to waitin the car. She put her head down and walked off. She may have even squeezed out a tear.
A few moments later, Brynna was back, and before she opened her mouth, I could tell the little defense-attorney-in-the-making had found a loop hole. She said, “You told me last time when I wanted to buy the Bible that I could get it another day.” What she doesn’t know is that like her love of shopping, she got that need to argue from me. I wrote the book on loop holes and TECHNICALLY I said “maybe.”
But here’s the deal. Regardless of the technicalities, I had the money to buy the Bible. The fact that my kid is this eager to have a Bible is kind of amazing. There are a lot worse things she could be begging for. She had been well-behaved that day, so I could have said, “Well, ok, since it’s a Bible and you’ve been so good…” That would have been good parenting, right? Right. But it wouldn’t have been best. Brynna doesn’t need anything.Nothing. She has more than enough. She just wanted it. And she wanted to prove she could get me to change my mind.
I told her no. I didn’t want to deal with the fallout. I didn’t want to have to discipline her when/if her response was less than desirable. I didn’t want to see her upset. I wasn’t really planning on a life lesson that afternoon or the tears that would go with it. And…I like to see her face light up in that way that makes my heart light up. I would have loved to give her something that would make her happy and help her grow – it was, after all, a Bible.
But I told her no. Because sometimes you have to just say no. Even when you really, really want to say yes, you say no. Not because it’s easy or will make them like you. Because you can see more than they can see. Because while it’s my job to GIVE to her, it’s my job to give her what’s BEST – and sometimes that’s a life lesson in the middle of a store that causes people to stare. Sometimes it’s at the expense of being called the meanest person ever. Sometimes it even results in a 6 year old questioning how much you love Jesus.
Just say no, Mama. And when you do, as you realize how hard it is and how sometimes it makes your heart physically hurt, remember that that’s how much God loves you. That’s how He feels when He’d give anything to make you smile but knows what’s best is that He tell you no. He can see a few things you can’t see. He’s not being mean…and neither are you.