I saw a preview for a movie with a radical plot last week. It was a fictional movie, about a Dad who says' Yes' to his children and the movie demonstrates all the joys and adventures that saying 'yes 'to kiddies and their whims and fancies can bring. So, even though this idea goes against every fibre of being that is my parenting instinct, I was inspired. I thought, "Hey, I'll give it a go".
So I said 'yes' to another biscuit, 'yes' to climbing into the car through the boot, 'yes' to everyone's song selections in the car and so on. The result was, for a little while everyone felt like they were getting what they wanted. It was a good idea, right up until the questions got to 'Can I stay home from school?' and 'Can we buy a guinea pig?".
On Mondays, I take Sophie to her ballet class. It would be better described as her bliss class. The little princess get's herself ' all pinked' and frocked and skips happily with pig tails flying into the hall to adore her ballet teacher and frolic in her bliss. This Monday, Sophie asked a very simple question, "Mummy, I want you to watch me. For the WHOLE class." So I said "Yes". And for one whole half hour I gave my daughter my full attention through a little window into the ballet hall. I didn't play Words with Friends, or check the nothing that people have to say on Facebook, or text the luthier or anything. One whole half hour of undivided watching.
About 5 minutes into the class I caught myself with the widest, most unselfconscious grin I have had in years. There they were, a group of little girls all dressed up in tutus and fairy costumes, and full ballet rig (though they are only three) soaking up the presence of their teacher, the dream ballerina, chins held aloft skipping, pointing and flexing and being a mermaid. The happiness and spirit was palpable and it had infected my face. I couldn't stop smiling.
After about 10 minutes I became aware of 3 mothers behind me. They were watching too, as their daughters took their turns at sideways skipping with scarves held before them in front of a mirror. And their commentary began,
' Oh, look at Lila, she doesn't concentrate.'
'Well look at Ruby, she is totally uncoordinated."
'What about Lucy, she isn't even going in the right direction."
The criticism was delivered with giggles and in the spirit of humurous self- deprecation, I guess.
And then they moved on to a systematic dissection of themselves. In the few minutes they stood there, while there daughters danced joyfully, they compared each other's faults. They weren't losing weight fast enough, they drank too much, they were overwhelmed with busy-ness and, of course, they were shit parents. All in a casual, couple-of-minute conversation.
And before us, in that room through the window frolicked the girls, blissfully dancing, blissfully in love, blissfully unaware of the social conventions ahead of them.
I turned the grown up voices off after that, tuned into the girls and said "Yes".
The grin returned in an instant.