A Wild Card Day (or two or few)

“Mom, can I color my hair pink?” She held up the package with the hot pink comb and the hair crayon that promised to add colorful streaks that wash out in one shampoo.

“Yes,” I answered. There was no hesitation. It spilled out effortlessly—with a smile. No analyzing what kind of mess it would make, if it was age appropriate, if it would set her up for more image-altering wants. Just “yes.”

She smiled her satisfaction, reminding me, “Don’t worry, it washes out,” diffusing any possibility that I might change my mind. I pulled out six wrinkled one dollar bills from the bottom of my purse and handed them to her—my ticket price for the show of childhood delight that followed. Sheer happiness—the quick wave of pride that accompanied the independence from a parent-free transaction with the cashier and the ten-minute countdown on the ride home for the transformation that was to come.

No sooner had the garage door opened, and the comb was out of the package, scraping blond strands and depositing thick hot pink greasy wax that weighed down her hair, turning feather light cornsilk into heavy icicles the color of a Bubble Yum wrapper.

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A three-minute mirror gaze followed with facial expressions that could be easily matched to candy conversation heart sayings: OMG. 2 Cool 4 School. Awesome. She was thrilled.

“Can we do Nella’s hair?” she added.

“Yes.” Again, it rolled off my tongue with ease, and another smile followed.

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Soon, two hot pink-headed girls were dancing in the hallway to our summer anthems, stopping periodically to catch a glimpse of their new dos in the mirror.

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A “yes” to pink hair ignited a full wild card day—yes to cushions off the couch, yes to Slip n’ Slide, yes to that clearance best friends necklace at Target—the one with two halves of a rainbow, one she’ll give to her friend and one she’ll most likely lose next week.

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Yes to S’mores at lunch and burning old mail in the firepit out back to roast our marshmallows. Yes to glow sticks. Yes to Katy Perry turned up to an annoying volume in our driveway while they rode scooters one-handed, holding popsicles with the other. Yes to the beach and dragging that giant stinkin’ inner tube with us. Yes to all of it at once and admittedly just as much for me as it was for them.

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We were having fun. I loved how happy all these yeses made them, and for all the “Not Today”s and “I Said No”s  that accompany parenthood, it felt good for one day (ahem–or two) to say yes to everything—especially considering that at this age it simply means temporary color combs and a second popsicle; not permanent dye, a dragon tattoo or hopping on that motorcycle with that guy.

I remember yes days from my own childhood—we knew they were special, and we didn’t push the limits. Like the time my dad told me I had to wait to get my ears pierced until I was ten but then pulled a fast one on me at Oakland Mall three years early when he looked at me all wild card starry-eyed and asked, “Hey, want to get your ears pierced?” Pierced ears were followed with a new skirt. And a soft pretzel. And a cherry icee. And staying up past my bedtime.

These crazy days don’t necessarily set a course in parenthood or seal a fate. They’re just fun. Random. And everybody knows it.  Maybe they subliminally represent something—some parental need to overcompensate, be the fun one, fill in the gaps for where their childhood might be lacking. Maybe they’re simply a response to our overwhelming love for them and fulfilment in seeing them overjoyed. Whatever the case, it smooths out, and kids come out just fine—I’m sure of it.

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And, hey. At least we’re a wild card united front right now. Call it summer spontaneity.

“What do you think about getting some neighbors together to rent a bounce house for the weekend?” Brett asked this morning. “You know, to celebrate summer.”

“Yes,” I answered. With no hesitation. Because I’m on a roll with the yeses, and it feels good.

Happy Weekend!

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(climbing up to finish someone’s soup)
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Leave a Comment
  1. I can see from your kids’ joyful faces and dancing that yes days are great fun. That is a super idea for moms and dads to do, so liberating.

  2. That picture of the 3 of them is SO cute and yay for “yes mom” moments!!!

  3. Aww, love the pink streaks! I put a turquoise streak in my daughter’s hair last week, she’s loving it :) YES TO YES!

  4. Kelle, I think this is GREAT! A yes day is just perfect! Good reminder:) It made me think about the “yes days” of my early dating/getting to know you days with my husband….Yes, I would love to talk for hours about your favorite scene from SITC. Yes, I would love to to hang out again with your 8 gabillion girlfriends while you dance like fools at Yabbas. Yes, let’s get up at 4 a.m. and watch the sun rise because you are 9 months pregnant and I can’t say no to the hormones…..Ah…yes days are the best!

    Oh, and I love that your neighbor’s cat is around.

  5. It DOES feel just as good for the parent as it does for the kid when the answer is a simple (an unexpected) yes.

    Happy Summer!! (Even though I’m jealous. It’s still not that hot here in NY. I need heat!)

  6. I was really hoping Brett would have a little pink in his hair when I got to his picture. Haha. Happy Summer!! Xo

  7. Oh, I am SO inspired by this post!!! Loving the exuberance and delight of a “wild card day”.
    p.s. Their pink hair is fabulous.

  8. I was also a “yes” Mom to my only child after growing up with a “no” Mom…felt great to make him so happy…still does.

  9. Much to my mother’s chagrin I told my 6 almost 7 year old that she could have pink streaks for the summer, permanent, requiring bleach because her hair is the colour of dark dark chocolate. My Mom, concerned said “she’s only 6!” Yes she is only 6, but she asked and I said yes. A reward for a great year at school. A yes, for being a great big patient sister. A yes, well just because I want her to. So high fives for being YES moms!!! ~ Leanna

  10. Yes days are the best days! To a summer of yes!!

  11. It’s so fun to be a yes mom some days. Thanks for the reminder.

  12. You are so right! I said “yes” to a couple things that I wouldn’t normally when we were at the store today and it felt good! I love Wild Card Days! Happy summer!

  13. Wow. Nella’s hair is getting so long.
    Lainey’s hair is bubble gum pink.
    Dash is all up in the middle of everything.
    You have 3 precious babies.
    I need to say YES more.
    Thank you!!

  14. Love this post!

  15. punk rock!!

    my mom used to let my hairdresser spray my pigtails colors back in the 80s! loved it!!

  16. It has been my daughter’s ritual for the last couple of years to dye the tips of her hair flame red on the first day of summer break since the school only permits “natural colors” during the school year.

    I love “yes” days…They usually start with donuts and end with late night family movie night or friends sleeping over.

  17. LOVE. THIS. SO. MUCH!!

  18. What a joyous entry – thank you so much.
    J x

  19. Yes to yes days! You all sound really happy :-)

  20. Oh I love yes days like these too! Happy summer! x

  21. YES! Love those pictures! WOW! Nella’s hair is growing like crazy! Fun summer days ahead at the Hampton house! Your kids will have such great memories of summer vacation, Kelly!

  22. My youngest just graduated from HS; my oldest just graduated from college and got her own place. I hope we had enough yes days.

  23. Just awesome!!!

  24. “Maybe they subliminally represent something” …? Oh yes. Great and wonderful childhood memories, that likely will never be forgotten.

    Very lovely post!

    Greetings from the alps, where great memories sit majestically as snow-capped mountains outside our windows,

  25. I am crying because I am so happy with this post. Rough, rough week…lots of things went wrong. So to hear yes to so many things like this makes me smile BIG!
    Love Nella on Brett’s shoulders, and Dash trying to catch water sprinkles!
    Big love to you from Tejas,

  26. So cute with the pink hair! (I kind of half expected to see either Dash or the dog with a rogue pink streak from one of the girls, haha)! Dash is so big! Hope you can come up to Michigan soon! xo

  27. Have you read the book Yes Day by Amy Rosenthal? Like all of her books, it is awesome.

  28. Have you read the book Yes Day by Amy Rosenthal? Like all of her books, it is awesome.

  29. You’re a super mom!

  30. Love the pink hair but hands down, favorite picture is Dash eating with sand ALL OVER his hands!! So cute!!

  31. I’m loving this and getting inspired for our summer to kick off in two weeks. Matt was good about saying yes: “Hey babe, what if, since you have to work, Ellie and I drive to Naples for a week and you fly down and drive back with us after a long weekend?”

  32. my fave post in a Long while! when my husband and i have crazy days like that i usually feel guilty and end up calling them “glutton days” – think i’ll leave the guilt behind and Change it to “yes days” from now on.

  33. I love you girl. I’ve been saying no too much…

  34. THANK YOU for this! I so needed to hear it. You’re reminded me to slow down and let my littles be little.
    Cheers from the MS coast!

  35. What a great idea! :)

  36. that picture of the three of them walking together… totally made me cry. no idea why. your kids are awesome. i hope one day i get to be as lucky as you (and god willing, the ability to say yes for pink hair).

  37. The last photo of Dash? in the saggy diaper perched on the chair? PERFECTION! That is a completely perfect real life memory! (not that i don’t love the pink haired girls, cause they are pretty fantastic too!)

  38. You make me want to be a better mamma. I just love all of this! Sometimes all of us need a little wild card (especially if someone is type A like myself) Live a lot!! Happy Summer!

  39. Great reminder! It’s going to be a yea kinda day

  40. Yes! You are on a role. Love this post! Keep them coming. :)

  41. Haha, I feel like your last 2 posts were just for me “stop saying no so much” and “get on with the dreaded laundry” THANK YOU ! You brightened up my Monday.
    V xxx

  42. Kelle….
    I experience a “yes” moment with my two-year old niece, “Amethyst” the other day!! On their tiny patio, “Amethyst” wanted to play with her water table. So we filled it up!! I do not recall when this begin. Perhaps…. When “Amethyst” threw some water on my butt? Within minutes, she was filling her little cups up and pouring it on me!! At first, I tried to tell “Amethyst” “no”, as I did not bring any spare clothing. But her delighted giggle instantly talked me out of it!! And I am so very glad it did!! Because spare clothing or no spare clothing, that is the kind of Aunt I always wanted to be!! “Amethyst” threw water on me, I screamed playfully, she giggled, and suddenly I could no longer feel the warm June heat!! Sure, I was drenched–soaked to the skin–all afternoon long. But I’m so very glad I said “yes” for an unforgettable memory with “Amethyst”!!
    Love you later, Raelyn

  43. Love the reference to Oakland Mall. :) My two oldest girls are the same age as yours so it’s fun to see that they like the same things. My youngest is 2 1/2 with DS. I stood in line to see you when she was first born but felt ridiculous going to talk to someone I didn’t know so I left. Thanks for writing. I’ve enjoyed reading! One of my favorite posts was about the 100th day of school in kindergarten because it was like you were telling our story! It cracked me up!

  44. So in love with your kiddies :)
    And I STILL can’t get over how much Nella looks like Nora sometimes….her smile, her body language, her body, her hair fling ;).
    Tell Lainey I LOVE her pink hair…it’s so flattering on her ;).

  45. that last photo of Dash? Love!!!!

    And also love the yes’s. Too many no’s in parenthood! Happy summer to you all!

  46. I loved this post! Felt like a classic, inspired Kelle message.

    I definitely sprinkled in more “yeses” yesterday with this post in my mind – it was awesome to say it and see the reaction, like you said. Thanks for the reminder!

  47. Now that my boy is grown and left home and my baby girl is gone I’m so happy I gave them plenty of YES!!!! days.

  48. such beautiful photos! I’ve been following you since I read BLOOM. Loved it. Love the pink hair! Your kids are getting so big. Sweet baby boy.
    I’d appreciate your input on something, Kelle. I’m giving up dying my hair and I’m writing about it on my blog. I’m hoping to stimulate a dialogue about it – women young and older. I want to hear views on why we do it, why we are intimidated by the gray (men aren’t). No judgments are made, I’m just wanting to explore this issue. Would you mind sharing your thoughts? You can visit my blog to do so.

  49. I loved this post. I will say, though, that for future yes days investing in some cheap pastels will save you some money. 😛 They wash out in 1 or 2 washes too.

  50. Good for you Mama! I truly believe that little yesses along the way lead to less desire to do those super crazy things when they turn 18. It worked with my two. The piercings have closed, the hair is pretty classic, and they are two amazing adult men now. Keep on saying YES when you can. It makes them accept the NO’s you have to issue to keep them healthy and safe.

    Your family is absolutely lovely. You are an inspiration to so many!

  51. Thanks again for inspiring sensible mums everywhere to say YES once in a while (or even for a whole day). One of the lessons I first learnt from your blog was that it was OK for my girls to have painted nails. Gosh, hadn’t realised how uptight sensible I was until that moment. Now I try to make an effort to say yes on the wildcard breakout moments that bring pleasure and joy.. Saying NO all the time can become a habit. And it sucks the verve, spontaneity and fun out of being a family, I so get this now. Thank you!

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