No, this isn’t what I expected. No, you are not giving my child what he needs. No, you did not give us the service you promised. No, medical professionals are sometimes jerks and require countless hours and days of phone calls and cajoling to get information from, plus sometimes they’re just plain wrong. No, I cannot be risky in my career, because too much depends on that which is stable. No, none of these options are good ones. Because all of them make me uncomfortable or have big drawbacks or somehow lead to even more “no”s.
I have been dared to say yes. And while I don’t think the results are going to be as slapsticky and hilarious as when Jim Carrey plays a guy literally unable to say no, I do think I’m about to board a pretty wild ride.
So here is what has happened to me in the last couple of weeks: I happened to talk to an amazing person about a variety of topics, including what it might look at if we all came at our kids (and ourselves) from a position of building around our strengths rather than always trying to shore up our weaknesses, and I don’t know, something clicked for me. Something suddenly made sense to me not just about my son, but about myself. About how always saying no is demoralizing. That no matter how “reasonable” it is to say no, it means “the end.”
I remembered a while back the kids and I read a great book where the characters were encouraged to always answer “yes, and…” to any question. Because that keeps the momentum building, and makes things happen.
Then I was able to turn around and instead of thinking:
No, my son cannot thrive in public school any longer. But no, I cannot homeschool him, both because I already have a job and because I would be terrible at it. And his job is to learn to deal with these things, and my job is to do what I’m good at, which is working. No, I cannot pursue my personal career pipe dreams right now, and no, I’m not at peace with that because everything sucks right now. No, every ‘solution’ here is a bad one.
… I applied some yes and a week later I was thinking:
Yes, my son is going to have a much better school experience next year, because we’re going to figure out what works for him and do that. And I most certainly can homeschool (and am lucky to have the flexibility to do so) because I’ve found the umbrella program that can make it work for us. And before we do any of that, yes, we’re going to give the school one more chance to change things, but yes, if that doesn’t work out, we have a plan ready. A great plan. Because yes, his job is to learn, but his number one job is to be exactly the great kid he already is and that kid doesn’t fit into the public school box right now. Which is fine. Because yes, there are a lot of different boxes in the world and there is one exactly the right size somewhere, but no one needs to know where or what it is when they’re only 10.
Yes, we’re going to be fine.
Yes, we are 99% decided on homeschooling. Yes, I suddenly feel like I can breathe again—after months of worry and doubt and wondering if I can really be the mother my kids need. We are saying YES all over the place, to the point where both of my kids are asking lots more questions. “Can we take field trips?” “Can we work ahead in math?” “Can we do science experiments?” “Can we write books?” “Can we learn to cook?” “Can we go rock climbing?”
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Look, I know this may not be an instant happily-ever-after—there will be bumps on this road, too, of course—but I am waaaaaay outside my comfort zone, kicking those boxes my poor kids have been stuffed into to the curb.
This is not comfortable, and this is not familiar, and yet it’s strangely exhilarating.