My daughter had today off from school and I had planned to do nothing more than go through the motions of cooking, cleaning, errands, and laundry.
As soon as she woke up this morning, she asked if we could go to Chick-Fil-A for lunch. While my brain said “no,” my lips said “yes” and I knew it must have been an act of God that caused that strange word to escape my mouth. You see, when it comes to requests like this, my default answer is “no” and sometimes I wonder if that is the only word I know.
No to Chick-Fil-A. No to fun.
There are a few reasons for this. 1) I am cheap, 2) I am trying not to raise entitled children whose lives revolve around treats and spending money, and 3) Fun takes so much work.
But if I’m being honest, it’s reason #3 that most often causes me to say no. Fun = work.
Fun means packing a day’s worth of food, accompanied by a variety of sippy cups, even if we will be gone for just an hour or two. Even if our destination is a restaurant full of food. Because it’s pretty much guaranteed that as soon as we arrive, my kids will suddenly be repulsed by the sight of chicken nuggets and waffle fries. They will instead beg for granola bars, fruit snacks, and goldfish crackers.
Fun means hauling around diapers and wipes and extra clothes in case the Little One experiences a diaper malfunction. And it turns out that the Big One still has an occasional accident which also requires an extra pair of undies and pants. And then there are the sweatshirts and jackets that will inevitably get left behind or lost.
Fun means dragging around a variety of distracting toys to entertain the Little One. It means spending 20 minutes retracing each of the Big One’s steps as we search for the most special of toys that was destined to be dropped and lost. It means tears of disappointment upon determining that it’s gone forever.
Fun means whining and crying when it’s time to eat their food. It means tantrums and screaming when it’s time to go home. It means no nap for the Little One as he is guaranteed to fall asleep in the car for 10 minutes, and then refuse an actual nap once he is home. It means matter-of-fact statements from the Big One declaring that she “didn’t even have fun.”
And this is just a sampling of the work that is involved with fun. Don’t even get me started on outings to the zoo and the swimming pool and birthday parties.
But despite saying “yes” to work and inconvenience, to spending money and a few extra rounds of whining and crying, I realized that I had said “yes” to so much more.
To laughter, as the Big One held the Little One on their trip down the slide together.
To exploration, as the Little One wandered around the indoor playground in awe.
To joy, as the Little One conquered the slide all on his own and the Big One helped celebrate that accomplishment.
To love, as I was inundated with hugs and kisses, an apparent reward for momentarily blessing my kids with my full attention.
And to peace in my heart as I realized that I had also said “yes” to quality time together-something that we could sure use a little more of. But you know, it takes work.
And lucky for me, today’s work paid off.