Kids / Serendipity

The art of not saying no….

The estimable Mr Giles Coren (@gilescoren, in case you’re not yet following him on Twitter) tweeted out the latest from his wife’s excellent blog Recipe Rifle this morning – about not losing a sense of perspective when your toddler insists on eating their tea standing up and directly from the pan (as Mr Coren is the food critic for The Times, I guess she’s following in the best gastronomic footsteps and appreciating her dinner to maximum effect).

(By the way, tweeting out your wife’s latest blogpost is a very Banksman thing to do….especially when he also describes it as “brilliant”. Nice man.)

It reminded me that we haven’t had call for many Liberty Hall days of late in our house. Calling a Liberty Hall day is my emergency strategy for when I simply can’t bear myself saying “no” to the children any more (as in “no, you can’t wear pink plastic shoes to school” and “no, you can’t leave all the vegetables on your plate” and “no, you can’t watch any more TV even if it is on the iPad rather than the TV”), because, frankly, a life in which you end up saying “no” in the face of persistent, tearful demands 95% of the time is a dispiriting and unduly negative waste of human capital.

So every so often, generally to dispel a rising tide of homicidal hysteria, I declare a Liberty Hall day, where the answer to every demand (unless dangerously unsafe) is Yes! Yes, we can have ice-cream for breakfast. Yes, we can spend all day at the zoo. Yes, you can buy a Barbie magazine. Yes, we can watch Mamma Mia three times over back-to-back! What always amazes me about this strategy is how startlingly small and achievable are the unlimited demands of my 5-yr-old and 7-yr-old. And they seem honestly thrilled  by the results.

I’ve assumed part of the success is the infrequency of the largesse. Presumably it’s a bit like single-handed good-cop/bad-cop. It’s when you relinquish the pressure of interrogation and start being nice that the suspect tells you things out of relief (considering that I’ve just compared my child-raising technique to a police interrogation practice, I think perhaps I need to rethink my analogies – fear not, the kids don’t spend their lives in fear of imminent incarceration!). Also, I may have to revise my “anything as long it isn’t dangerously unsafe” rule to add and “and doesn’t break the bank” as they get older and start to demonstrate more materially acquisitive tendencies.

But, I think time is well over-due for another Liberty Hall day. Maybe after I’ve been paid though – just in case!

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