Every family has those stories which are turned over and over again at family get-togethers. There’s a fun little story that goes around in my husband’s family about a chicken dinner I’d like to tell you today.
It’s a sunny Saturday in July, and the family is piling into the old Ford Aerostar. It’s been a lazy summer, and they are headed to The Corning Glass Museum in Corning, NY, for a day trip.
My husband, around six years old at the time, sits in the back of the van with his older brother and sister, and it isn’t long before the three of them are fighting and whining grumpily. Snippets of their arguments and complaints reach their parents’ ears. They’re hot, they’re cramped, they don’t want to sit in the car for 2.5 hours just to go to a boring museum and look at some fancy glass that’s sitting behind some regular glass.*
Having had quite enough, their dad pulls the car over, turns his face towards his children and slowly, clearly, and patiently, through bated breath, asks “Well where DO you want to go, then?”
The kids think for a minute, and then the oldest suggests Frankenmuth, Michigan, where they’d once eaten an amazing chicken dinner on vacation. Everyone cheers in agreement and without another word, the old van changes its course. 6 hours later, with no bathroom breaks or stopping for food, the family sits down to enjoy a fantastic chicken dinner at The Bavarian Inn Restaurant. They then pile back into the van for the drive back to Buffalo, NY and arrive home at 2am the next morning.
There are times that we have to say no to our kids. And trust me, I am all about this. No to the toys in the check out line, no to the extra cookies—no to their little versions of consumerist greed and sugar-crazed longings. As a minimalist and also a mom, I can be a little bit of a killjoy, true. But I hope that as I grow as a parent I can make up for these “nos” by being extravagant in saying yes to experiences. Yes to chicken dinner in Michigan. Yes to “Can I dig a hole in the back yard to see how far I can dig?”— an actual question posed by my husband to his mother the morning of this shot on the right. It’s easy to buy a few moments of shallow happiness with a toy that will lose it’s novelty just minutes off of the shelf. What’s difficult is rearranging our lives, being flexible with our plans, and letting go of our schedules so that we can afford to be lavish with experiences, and give our kids the best kind of gift: a story.
So here’s to [raises her cup of tea] saying no to the things that most people say yes to, and saying yes to the absolutely ridiculous requests that most people say no to.
love is a place
& through this place of
(with brightness of peace)
yes is a world
& in this world of
-E.E. Cummings, Love is a Place
*I have never been to the museum myself, and neither had these children. This is not an accurate representation of what the museum is actually like.