Of all the things I know I am “not supposed” to say as a parent, there’s one that is getting harder during this time of high stress in my life. But no matter how tense my nerves or stretched my patience, I know I am not allowed to answer my children’s WHY? with “because I said so.”
OHMYGOD, I really, really want to.
Just once I would love to say to the inquiry “why can’t I jump off the ice cooler onto my brother’s stomach?” with “because I said so.” I never do. I always explain the fundamentals of danger and safety and why the force of a 36-pound big sister landing on a 30.5-pound little brother might result in ruptured organs and then an ambulance ride, followed by an extended hospital stay. I tell them both that their safety is important to me– the most important thing– to me.
It would be one thing if they asked why not? only a few times a day. Or an hour. It feels like it’s all day long. Why can’t we chew gum? Why can’t we have waffles for a snack 45 minutes before dinner? Why can’t we go to the park at 9PM? Why can’t I wear your favorite Tory Burch flats to run in the mud?
Just once, I would love the luxury, the forbidden delight of saying, “because I said so”. I don’t because it’s just not what parents these days do for a host of great reasons. Honestly, I am afraid that I wouldn’t be able to stop there. I’d keep going. Like a gigantic filibuster. Or diarrhea.
I’d say, “I am the mom. I am in charge around here. I don’t have to explain anything to do. I do because that’s what parents are into these days and all of my friends explain everything to their kids. But just so you know, I get to say how we do things around here and I’m sick of explaining the world to you so you don’t think I am mean or withholding or a total buzz kill or end up in extensive group therapy (because that shit is time consuming and expensive). I’ve never once denied you a single thing because I wanted you to suffer. My goals concern keeping you alive and, on occasion, keeping my hearing and sanity in tack, because, SILLY ME, I think that you might enjoy walking through the next few years with a mother who lives at home and not at the mental hospital.”
I don’t say that. I never will. At my core I believe my kids deserve explanations about how I came to my mean, old NO! that ruins their fun. I certainly don’t want my kids growing up thinking that the world is run by capricious, wanton authority figures who squelch their pleasure for sport. But for the love of all the stupid things they want to do that might get them maimed, I want them– just for once– to accept my no you cannot without any further pressing or pushing or demand for more.
And some day when I am old and incontinent and they won’t let me stay up late watching re-runs of The Golden Girls or let me spend my money on infomercial products or psychic hotlines, my why not?s will haunt their every waking hour.