24 Hours of Yes

IMG_4256Sometimes I feel like I’m always telling my kids “No.”

Sure, there are times when No is useful–like when they ask to eat ice cream for dinner or ask if they can draw that really cool picture on their arms…with a Sharpie. Other times No is quite necessary for the health and safety of themselves or those around them–like when they ask if it’s ok to play with Mommy’s (plugged-in) blow dryer in the (full of water) bathtub or if they can “practice flying” off the roof with their friend. Sometimes, though, No is just plain convenient. Like when they ask if they can go for a bike ride but I’m “busy” emptying the dishwasher or when they ask for me to do a puzzle with them but I’m BUSY updating my Facebook status (I may have a friend who does this.).

All of the No’s got me to thinking–what would happen if I just said YES? Like, every single time my kids asked me something, I just said yes. And so, an experiment was born: 24 Hours of Yes. I decided to go one whole day where my answer to every suggestion my children made was “Yes.” Not “Later” or “I’m busy” or “I don’t feel like it”, but “Yes”.

*Note:
I performed this “experiment” on our first official day of summer vacation (which also happened to coincide with the day Daddy left for a big business trip–not something any of us were looking forward to, so I thought the “summer fun day” would help distract them a bit). I chose this day so that I could guise all of my extra Yeses as a special celebration of our newfound summer freedom (that way they wouldn’t be able to hold me accountable to continue performing in such an agreeable manner for all of eternity). 

Although I didn’t tell my test subjects children about the experiment, I did set up a few guidelines for myself. First, no requests could directly interfere with stated family rules or cause harm to themselves/another being/property. Secondly, all of my Yeses for my kids meant some No’s for me: no cell phone (Gah! No Facebook! No emoticon texting! No Candy Crush Saga!) and no impatience–today was going to be about my kids, so I wanted to be present for them and lay aside my own plans for the day.

With no further ado:

24 Hours of Yes

Question: What will happen when I only answer Yes to my children for 24 hours?

Hypothesis: My children will watch way too much TV and eat way too much junk food. I will go bananas from the lack of control.

Experiment Notes:

7:15    Yes to “Can I watch a show on your phone?” when Jacob sees me check the time on my iPhone before rolling out of bed.

7:30    Yes to pancakes for breakfast. (Sugar count:1, because to my children, “pancakes” actually means “lick syrup off the plate”.)

9:00    Yes to watching Daniel Tiger while I clean up from breakfast.

9:25    Yes to spending the day at Happy Hollow (*Happy Hollow is a magical wonderland of childhood fantasy. It’s part kiddie rides, part zoo, part ride on a dragon to Never Land. It’s lovely.)

9:41    Yes to eating gummy bears while I pack a picnic to bring with us to Happy Hollow. (Sugar count: 2)

10:08   Yes to spending 15 extra minutes searching the house for a VERY SPECIFIC TOY–even though we already had the car packed and everyone buckled in their seats.

10:15   Yes to jumping on the bed while Mommy crawls on the floor looking for the VERY SPECIFIC TOY.

10:30   Yes to running laps in the driveway (outside the packed-and-ready-to-leave-our-house car), waving the found VERY SPECIFIC TOY in a victory parade.

11:00   Yes to playing on the metal fire truck outside the Happy Hollow entrance gate, even though we’re already an hour past my planned arrival time.

12:00   Yes to the children deciding which attractions we would visit at Happy Hollow, and in which order  (This had a pleasant side effect of giving me a great workout while criss-crossing the park all day).

12:45   Yes to buying Icees after lunch. (Sugar count: 3)

1:00   Yes to riding the rickety roller coaster SIX TIMES in a row. Without getting off.  Directly after downing giant red Icees.

1:40    Yes to posing inside the over-priced photo booth.

2:40    Yes to “Mama, will you hold me?” while Big Brother plays on the playground.

3:00    Yes to “Mama, hair down.” (*Jacob is obsessed with my hair and he gets depressed if it’s pulled back in my quintessential “messy bun” for too long).

3:30    Yes to looking around the full-of-temptations gift shop.

4:15    Yes to the request to go home and rest (*This resulted in a secondary request to go back to Happy Hollow–which was not granted due to the fact that it would negate my previous Yes–followed shortly by a colossal temper tantrum in the parking lot).

4:45    Yes to watching a movie with Big Brother while Little Brother took his nap.

6:35    Yes to reading a story before cleaning up from dinner, even though there was food on the counter and dirty dishes on the table.

6:45    Yes to taking my hair down. Again.

7:30    Yes to throwing rocks into the bushes in our backyard.

7:45    Yes to eating Pez out of their Elsa and Olaf Pez dispensers while we read our bedtime story. (Sugar count: 4)

8:20    Yes to one more story after everyone was already tucked in and ready for sleep.

8:30    Yes to butterfly kisses before they pass out from a (mostly) perfectly wonderful day of Yes.

Analysis of Results:
There was an excess of TV watching, junk food eating, story reading, and hair letting-down. There was a deficiency in Mother’s typical overly-controlling behavior.

Conclusion:
Yes is a good thing, and I need more of it in my life. There are certain requests that are always worth Yes–requests that increase our quality time together, that help us build memories, that help us strengthen our relationship, that validate my childrens’ role as a decision-contributor (most of the time) in our family. It went against my very nature to say so many Yeses, but I recognize the value of that word and I want to say Yes more often.

While I’m going to hang on to my Not Now’s and my No’s for when I really need them, I’m going to keep those cards in my back pocket. If there’s a way to say Yes–even at the expense of my own personal comfort or enjoyment–I’m going to take it.

Unless, of course, they ask me to ride that dang roller coaster 6 times in a row again.

XxX,
Allison

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Color Swirl Milk Experiment

David loves “projects” so I’m always looking for fun, simple activities we can do together. I recently came across this idea for a preschool science experiment involving milk and food coloring. Sold!

To do this “color swirl” experiment you only need a few household materials: a pan or wide-rimmed plate (I used an 8×8 baking dish and it was perfect), dish soap, milk (high-fat or whole milk work best), liquid food coloring, Q-tips and/or toothpicks, and *optional* paper (watercolor paper or construction paper, not computer printer paper)

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Once you’ve gathered your materials, the fun begins! Start by pouring milk into the pan until it just covers the bottom of the dish. Drop 4 or 5 drops of each color of food coloring near the center of the pan so the colors are close together. Tell your preschooler to resist the beautiful colors and keep his hands to himself for 2 more seconds.

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Dip the end of a Q-tip into the center of the colors and watch what happens (nothing, except maybe you push a bit of milk around). Now ask your child what you think will happen if you dip the same Q-tip into soap before dipping it into the center of the milk (“What is your prediction, child? Will anything be different? What do you think will happen?”). Now, generously coat the end of the Q-tip or toothpick with dish soap. Dip the Q-tip into the center of the colors and hold the Q-tip still (I know, holding still is a difficult concept for a preschooler, but trust me–it’s worth it!). Now watch the colors explode as they dance away from the Q-tip!

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Now dip the other end of your Q-tip in the dish soap and poke it down somewhere else in the dish. It’s like magical little fireworks repelling away from the Q-tip!

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I was curious about the science behind the color swirls so I did a quick internet search and found this great website with a thorough explanation. Turns out that dish soap is bipolar–not in the manic-depressive sense, but in the hydrophilic polar (water-loving) and hydrophobic non-polar (water-fearing) sense. When the water-fearing part of the dish soap connects with the fat in the milk, the magic happens. As all of the little soap molecules start racing around trying to find the milk-fat molecules to connect with they push the food coloring out of the way, creating those wonderful swirls.

We thought that the colors were so pretty that we decided to try capturing them on paper. I just cut a few pieces of artist paper down to a size that would easily fit in our pan and we laid each piece straight on top of the color swirls before gently lifting it back up. The color swirl paper looks really beautiful (and, just in case you’re wondering, a few days later they still smell fine!).

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After playing with four batches of milk in the pan, it was time for another experiment. I came up with this one all on my own. What will happen if we replace the milk with water, take away the food coloring, add a bit of dish soap and switch out the Q-tips for scrub brushes? David couldn’t wait to find out!

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Ta-da! Prest-o, clean-o! Now that’s one science experiment that can keep all of us happy.