Honoring Wyatt’s “Yes Day” request with too much screen time and a junk food lunch. Not exactly what I had in mind. I can only blame myself.
Day 4, Sun July 20
Money Spent: $182 Total: $25 lunch at In-N-Out; $25 matinee movie tickets; $40 bookstore; $42 Safeway grocery shopping.
Miles Driven: 20 miles (I decided to change this category to miles driven in car rather than gas used because it is easier to calculate.)
Quantity/Quality of Exercise: Sufficient for a rest day. A couple miles of scootering for all the kids; Wyatt also took a walk with Floyd in the morning. I got a couple miles of walking while the kids scootered to/from the movie and also another couple miles walking Floyd in the afternoon.
Temper: B… Like yesterday, there were plenty of A moments throughout the day—maybe even a couple of A+ parenting interactions—but the evening was not great.
Aaron needed to go out for a work-related function after dinner and the kids were wild and uncooperative throughout shower and bedtime. I lost my patience when they were roughhousing in the bathroom. Something about the bathroom—maybe it’s the nudity or the big mirror or the water– seems to bring out the worst in them. It is not uncommon for them to go into the bathroom and started shouting and shoving and being generally out of control. I just know that someone is going to slip and crack his skull on the bathtub one of these days.
This evening, when I could tell I was losing my patience, I went into my room, shut the door, intending to take ten deep breaths to calm my temper before talking to the kids (rationally, calmly, lovingly). The din raged on in the bathroom… around breath #5, I opened my eyes, barged out of my bedroom, marched into the bathroom and yanked Wyatt out of the shower by the arm, sending him, streaming with water, into his room to pick up the scattered (again) Legos, saying, “Don’t come out again until I tell you that you can!”
Yeah, I know, not A+ parenting.
After they were all finally showered and pajamaed and piled into Duncan’s bed and finally settled down, we did have a beautiful reading session, starting the first couple chapters of “Rascal”—a favorite from my childhood.
But then, bedtime did not go smoothly. I had Duncan and Milo in bed, lights out, and tucked in by 8:15; Wyatt was in his bed reading. An auspicious start one might think.
“I’m going to run down and take Floyd out,” I told them. “I’ll be back in one minute. Please stay in bed.”
Then I walked downstairs to take Floyd out and before I knew it, three little pajamaed figures were at the front door calling my name. Argghhhh.
They all kept popping up, one after the other– this one needs water, this one needs to pee, that one heard a suspicious sound, that one is concerned a black hole with swallow the Earth, and so on and so forth– until I finally declared, “If anybody gets out of bed again, that’s one week with no sweets… SO GET YOUR BUM-BUMS BACK IN BED IF YOU EVER HOPE TO HAVE DESSERT AGAIN IN YOUR LIFE!”
Milo finally fell asleep crying, “My want zert, my want zerrrt, my want zert, Mommy, my love zert….”
Toll on House/Yard: Neutral.
Screen Time: A lot. Way more than any pediatrician or childhood expert would recommend. Duncan and Milo got Starfall and TumbleBook time in the morning—at least half and hour of each, probably nearly twice that—and Wyatt installed a game on my phone and played that for as long as his brothers were on the computer. And then we took everyone out to a feature-length movie. All in all, between the morning screen time, featured movie, and previews before the movie, I would not be surprised if the kids spent three full hours staring at screens today. (I blame the Yes Day… which I signed off on… which means, I guess I have to blame myself… sigh.)
Scheduled, over-, under-, or just right?: A little under-scheduled, hence the glut of morning screen time.
Activities/Outings: In-n-Out for lunch; Movie theater to see “Planes: Fire and Rescue”. This was our first visit to the movie theater down the road from us.
Today was a “Yes Day”, as requested by Wyatt on Friday. We celebrated our very first Yes Day when Wyatt was four years old. I had first gotten the idea from a story my best friend told me about her sister doing the same with her kids.
Here is the basic rule of a Yes Day: For one day, any request a child makes is granted.
Here are the caveats we apply in our Yes Days: Requests cannot be dangerous, unreasonably expensive, or illegal and must be able to be completed within a single day.
Wyatt earned his first Yes Day by completing a behavior chart—100 boxes checked off over the course of a month for things like using good manners, going to sleep without a fuss, helping out with chores, not pushing/hitting at preschool, and completing his speech therapy homework. It was a little unnerving to turn over the reigns to him. I expected him to want to watch movies all day or buy expensive things from the toy store or do stupid stuff like climb onto the roof of the house. Nope. I had it all wrong. Here were his primary requests: Mommy and Daddy off their phones and computers all day; minimal photo-taking; no getting dressed or brushing hair/teeth until after lunch; riding a city bus; and adopting a pet slug. The slug was found and adopted on a walk before lunch. The rest of the day was devoted to creating an elaborate habitat for the slug. (We had Sluggy McBuggy as a pet for a full six months, by the way.)
When Duncan turned four, we were in the midst of a highly stressful time and I did not feel up to throwing him a birthday party or planning anything elaborate for his birthday. Our gift to him was a Yes Day on his birthday. Both of my sisters and my brother-in-law joined us for the day and Aaron took half a day off work. He requested a ghost-shaped pizza for breakfast, a visit to a nearby aerospace museum, a family hike, sushi boats for dinner, and cupcakes from a cupcake shop at the mall for dessert. The one request of his we could not grant was “turning the back yard into a beach”. I tried various ways to make this sort of possible—we could put a wading pool out and spread towels around it as pretend sand. We could put together a small sandbox. We could paint a beach mural. Nope, he insisted on hauling in truckloads of “real sand” and flooding the yard to make “our own ocean”. “Sorry, buddy, that’s a no go. Pick something else.”
Today’s Yes Day was different from others in that all three of the children were in charge and that nobody had to do anything to earn the day. Two days ago, Wyatt simply asked if we could declare July 20 our official annual family Yes Day and Aaron and, as my personal goal for that day had been to let go of control a little bit and let the day unfold as it would, so, I continued this theme, saying, “Oh, sure, why not?” What’s one extra made up holiday per year?
Yes Day Requests and Responses:
Duncan: Can we make pancakes for breakfast?
Wyatt: Can I pour the batter in the pan for my pancake myself?
Wyatt: Can I eat that pancake I made right now instead of waiting to sit down at the table?
Duncan: Can I do that, too?
Duncan: Can we go buy a remote control airplane?
Wyatt: Can we go to the toystore?
Duncan and Wyatt: Why not?
Response: Money drought. Besides, Yes Day is about “doing”, not “getting”.
Wyatt: Can we at least go and browse?
Response: Not this time.
3. Screen Time
Milo: Can I do Tumblebooks?
Duncan: Can I do Starfall?
Wyatt: Can I install “Mutants” on your phone and play it?
Response: How much does it cost?
Response: Okay then.
Wyatt, Duncan, and Milo: Can we have more Mutants/Starfall/Tumblebooks?
Response: Sure, why not?
Wyatt: Can we have In-N-Out for lunch?
Enthusiastic Response: Sure!
In-n-Out is the only fast food we eat.
The reason is this: we are persnickety about these kinds of things.
The basis for our decision to make this one chain the exemption to our No Fast Food Rule is:
- It is the only fast food chain endorsed by Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation;
- In-n-Out employees are paid the highest wages in the fast food industry and all receive health benefits;
- It uses fresh, never frozen, ingredients, peeling its own potatoes, hand-leafing lettuce, etc.;
- It is delicious.
- We can feed our whole family for $20.
The bizarre thing for me is that even though I am a vegetarian, I enjoy our visits to In-n-Out just as much as my omnivorous family. I always order two “veggie burgers”, which are really just all the condiments without a patty. I could get cheese on them if I wanted to, but I like them better without. This is my order: “Two veggie burgers, no cheese, animal style, with onions”. What this means is that I get two fresh made buns with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, grilled onions, raw onions, mustard and “sauce”. It’s basically just an onion sandwich. Maybe it’s the fresh-baked buns, maybe it’s the special sauce, but whatever the magic is, it’s satisfyingly tasty.
Wyatt: Can we have milkshakes after lunch?
This is an oft-made request that has never been granted before in three years of visiting In-n-Out on a monthly basis. It was a big deal. Aaron balked when he saw they were 600 calories each. But it was Yes Day, so we splurged. The kids each drank approximately half a shake and then decided they were too full to continue. I was happy to help consume the leftovers, but Aaron saved me from myself by throwing two of the half-full cups away before I could get to them.
Wyatt: Can we go see “Earth to Echo”?
Response: Yes, we can go see a movie, but no, not that one.
Response: It has terrible reviews and it’s only showing at a theater half an hour away.
Wyatt: Please? Please? It’s Yes Day, remember, not No Day.
Response: Not today, but Mommy will promise to take you later this week. Daddy only gets to see movies once in a blue moon and we’re not wasting his time on a lousy movie.
Response: Don’t push your luck, buddy. You just got offered TWO theater movies in a single week.
Duncan: Can we go see “Planes: Fire and Rescue”?
After lunch, we dropped Floyd off at home and headed down the street to the theater. The kids rode their scooters and Aaron and I walked. Everyone enjoyed the movie, although I sort of think between “Cars”, “Planes”, and this movie, it’s time to have a female leader/instructor, instead of relegating the female characters to sidekicks and romantic interests. We never saw “Cars 2”, so I’m not sure if the “crusty old male with a secret history” archetype is also in that movie.
On the way home from the movie, I started making a few requests of my own…
Lindsey: Let’s stop at this bookstore and peruse the dollar bins!
Response: Um, okay.
Lindsey: Hey, here’s one of my favorite books from when I was a kid for $2! Let’s buy it!
Response: Okay. [Aaron went in to buy the perfectly good copy of “The Great Jam Sandwich”. It was newish, minus the missing dust jacket. He came out with the children’s book, plus a copy of “Capital in the 21st Century” for himself.]
Lindsey: Let’s stop at Safeway and get something healthy to make for dinner!
Lindsey: You guys stay out here with the scooters, I’ll go in.
Aaron and Milo: Okay
Duncan and Wyatt: Can we come with you?
Wyatt and Duncan: Can we buy this? How about this? Or this? Or this?
Response: No, No, No, No.
Wyatt: Can we buy this bottle of Gatorade?
Duncan: Can we get gum?
Duncan and Wyatt: Can we have a piece now?
Duncan and Wyatt: Can we have two pieces now?
Duncan: Can we have three pieces now?
Wyatt: If Duncan gets three pieces, I want three pieces!
Response: Don’t push your luck, buddies…
Duncan and Wyatt: Huh?
After Safeway, we continued home, loaded down by groceries. We passed a particular wall and railing that the kids always want to stop and play on…
Milo (stopped at wall and dropping scooter down): My can get exercise now?
All three kids: YAY!
[an interminable period of time later, Aaron had already gone the rest of the way home with the groceries and I was ready to move on]
Me: Okay, guys, that’s enough climbing on the wall. Let’s go home.
Them: Can we stay a little more?
Response: Yes. Five more minutes.
[Ten Minutes Later…]
Me: Time to go.
Them: Just a little more?
Them: But it’s Yes Day!
After our unhealthy lunch, the kids accepted that we would be making a healthy dinner instead of honoring any Yes Day requests. I took a walk with Floyd while Aaron read to Milo and the other boys played with Legos. Then I made a dinner of broccoli, arugula salad with the kids’ favorite dressing, white rice, corn on the cob, and Morningstar (vegetarian) Sausage Patties panfried in olive oil. Everyone ate well. Blackberries for dessert.
9. Final requests
Wyatt: Can we have extra long book time?
Duncan: Can Floyd come into my bed?
Milo: Can my sit on your lap?
Wyatt: Can we stay up a little bit later than usual?
Wyatt: Can we stay up extra, extra late?
Not one of our more exciting/creative Yes Days, but successful enough. Although we allowed more screen time, spent more, and ate less healthy than we endeavor to do on a daily basis, sometimes it’s nice to Just Say Yes.