No, you cannot have another donut.
No, we cannot go to the movies tonight.
No, you cannot skip your math homework.
No, we cannot buy that toy.
No, you cannot sleep over at the neighbor's house.
As parents, we say no because our kids aren't yet capable of making the best decisions for themselves. And so they don't run around like crazy chickens.
Where I feel convicted though is when I say no to things because they are messy.
No, we aren't going to play playdough right now. (Dried playdough all over the table and floor? Eww. No thanks.)
No, we aren't going to paint right now. (It's a hassle to get out supplies, a hassle to put away, and a hassle in between with paint everywhere and water spills.)
No, we aren't going to color. (Because you almost always get crayon or pen on the table, carpet, floor, or your clothes).
No, we aren't going to do a craft. (Those little scraps of construction paper will get all over the floor, and you'll get glue on your clothes, and we'll get glitter all over the ground.) (BTW, whoever invented glitter should be shot. PLEASE don't send me a glittery Christmas card.)
No, I don't think we should play chalk right now. (Because it will be on my driveway for the next week.)
No, I don't need your help cooking dinner. (You might spill the oregano.)
No, I don't think we should play monopoly right now. (Or it will be sitting out for the next 5 days.)
But gosh, moms, where is the fun in that?!
Two days ago I was on all fours, drudging my way through chocolate-colored, stinky mud, at the Camp Pendleton Mud Run. Imagine thousands of participants running 6.2 miles of trail, hopping over obstacle courses, army-crawling under lines of flags submerged in 3 inches of sloshy, dirty goo, crawling through steel tunnels and climbing over walls. I had a BLAST. I was filthy muddy. Mud in my jogging bra, mud down my pants, mud in my shoes and hair, mud splattered on my face. And I was laughing hysterically.
It was SO MUCH FUN being so dirty.
For a healthy chunk of the run I found myself thinking, I should get muddy more--my kids would get a hoot out of this crazy mess--seeing their mommy covered in brown slime.
Summer is here. I want to be a fun mom. I want us to laugh together and build memories and create beauty. I don't want to be stingy, take-your-mess-outside (and away from me!) mom. I want to be spackling, sparkling, experimental mom who fosters the creation of masterpieces.
Here are a few ideas for making mess and making fun:
- Lay white sheets on the garage floor and paint all day long--paint in daddy's old white t-shirts with your ipod blasting happy music. Paint hands and feet, bodies and clothes, (in addition to paper or canvas or a birdhouse or wood.) Throw 'no mixing' out the window. Toss 'don't get it on your clothes' in the trash.
- Build that ginormous fort in the living room, with doorways and sleeping bags and flashlights. Eat cereal on a blanket in the fort. Watch a movie on the laptop. Break out Sorry under the draping of blankets.
- Set up the tent in the backyard and camp out. Make smores and sing around the campfire. Drape a sheet on the fence and project a movie onto it. Go snipe hunting.
- Chalk a glorified race track for his matchbox cars. Etch it on your driveway, with pits and ambulances standing by, and bleachers of fans cheering.
- Make homemade ice cream and homemade lemonade and homemade cookies in the same day. Let the dishes pile up! Toss chocolate chips into each other's mouths like a ring toss and link the spoon twice over. Throw flour at each other because you can, and because they'll remember.
- Color a wall-sized poster. A poster as big as the twister tarp and taller than the tallest person in your house. Outline each other's bodies and color on clothes and faces. Draw scribbles and rainbows. Leave the poster on the garage floor or the back patio for days upon days.
- Play make-up. Let her put on your eye shadow and lipstick and blush. Give her the nail polish and ask her to paint your toes in beautiful colors, stickers and sparkles. Then return the favor.
- Fill up water balloons and ambush the neighbors. (Preferably neighbors who will laugh.)