My sweet, sweet four-year-old son surprised me today.
We were outside playing in the yard, and his younger sister was on our tree swing. After returning home from dropping his older sister off at dance class, he asked so meekly, “Could we play outside for a little bit and try to catch lizards?”
My first reaction was a grumble, and my first noise was a huff. Do we really have to do this again? I thought to myself. But, then I reminded myself of the fact that I recently decided I need to say “yes” more to my children. Far too often, I am a “no” mom.
No, we are not playing outside.
No, you cannot watch TV.
No, mommy cannot help you—I am working.
I come from such a place of no that I was starting to irritate myself. Thankfully this revelation did finally come to me, and this week I have been trying to do a better job of saying yes when appropriate and of focusing on the joy my positive response brings to my children.
Sure, we can play outside, I say. My son rushes in the door to get his bug catcher. After about what felt like 40 minutes (but was probably only about two), he began to get frustrated. He didn’t melt down which is his typical nature and that surprised me, but then he did something I had never seen him do before on his own without prompt or provocation.
He asked me to close my ears. At first, I didn’t know why, but as I looked over at him, I saw him connect his hands and interlock his fingers just as he does during pre-lunchtime prayer at preschool. I tried to honor his wishes, but I couldn’t help removing my cupped hands from my ears and trying to overhear him. I could only make out a small portion of what he was saying, but the gist of it was him asking God to let him catch a lizard.
Be still my heart. It’s been beating out of my shirt since the incident.
Not only am I proud of my little big man for not throwing a tantrum when his lizard search ended without the catch and release of an actual lizard, but more for asking for help when he needed it. I should tell you that he did ask me, but I refused to get close to any lizards, so he called in reinforcements.
This special moment between him and the real big guy turned into a memorable moment for him and me.
As you might have assumed, God didn’t let him catch a lizard. In fact, we didn’t see any more lizards at all after his prayer. Thankfully though, he found something else—perspective—and I probably wouldn’t have given him any had this moment not occurred.
My son rightfully wondered why God didn’t give him the lizard. I informed my main man that this was an excellent life lesson.
We talked about how sometimes in life we are going to ask God for things to happen or not happen and they may end up happening or not happening.
We talked about how, often, God answers our prayers, but not in the present moment or not in the way we would think or want—but that an answer always is received.
We talked about how God is not Santa; He does not make toys, and His role is not to give us objects that we pray for.
We talked about how God’s main job is to keep him, his sisters and all the children of the world safe, happy and healthy.
We talked about how he can speak to God his whole life whenever he is happy, sad, angry, excited or feeling any emotion at all.
This was a very unexpected extraordinary moment with my son, and it will forever be the reason I will always say “yes” to chasing lizards.
You never know what impactful occurrence you may miss out on when you aimlessly offer up a standard “no” to your child. Instead, say “yes”.
Say yes to their attempts at conversation.
Say yes to their attempts at learning.
Say yes to their desire for experience.
Say yes to answering their questions
Say yes to growing with them—in faith and life.