Luckily, every now and then I catch myself, and instead of saying that I don't have time, I realize that there's no reason that I can't make the time. And I always end up being so glad that I did.
Yesterday the kids and I were just finishing up some errands when they realized that we were near the park and asked if we could go play. I almost said no, quickly scanning through all the reasons to do so. I was tired. It's summertime in Arizona, so it's always too hot out. We weren't really dressed to go play in the sand. And (the worst one of all) we hadn't planned to go to the park that day.
I cringed when I heard that last excuse go through my head. And then I scolded myself for having thought it in the first place. (They're kids. They want to stop and have a little fun.) So I quickly reassessed to see if I actually had any valid reasons to say no. I decided that I could get over being tired, and that clothes can be washed, so not being "dressed for it" was ok. The heat really is a valid concern, but a glance at the car's thermometer showed me that it was actually about ten degrees cooler than it has been lately, so we could realistically go out without being in any immediate danger.
After this quick internal conversation I explained that we couldn't stay long (because the heat would eventually get us) but that yes, we could go play for a little while. This of course was met with all of the cheers and claps and other sounds of joy that always make me smile and remind me that this, right here, is what being a parent is all about. These little moments of spontaneous fun beat out anything that I could have planned.
Of course, there are times when we as parents have to say no. We can't always give our kids everything their little hearts desire, even when we'd like to. That's just the harsh reality of life. But the sad part, as I was reminded yesterday, is that saying no almost becomes the natural reaction. We get so wrapped up in our adult lives with our adult problems that we automatically start blocking out other important things... like stopping to realize that sometimes there's really no reason to say no.
After all, if I hadn't agreed to stop and play, I would have missed out on this moment. And that, my friends, would have been tragic.
There's actually a part 2 to this story, with another equally important lesson that I learned. Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion. :)
Update: You can now find part 2 of the story here.