“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.