By Kay Wyma.
One thing I’ve noticed with my kids is how quickly they take “no” for an answer or even assume they can’t ask. I mean, someone could look at them with a quizzical response to a question and, more often than not, they’re running the other way saying something like, “It’s closed” or “Can’t do it,” or “I told you it would be no.”
I find it so interesting.
It must have something to do with aversion to failure. Or maybe it’s just regular kid don’t-want-out-of-the-comfort-zone. Could it the new normal of choosing flight over fight? Thinking that very few things are worth scraping and clawing to get to the other side.
The other day I drove to Plano with one of my kids riding shotgun by my side. We absolutely love the Great Harvest Bread Company. When one near our house closed a few years ago, I went into mourning.
When I heard there was a store off Spring Creek Parkway in Plano (and since whatever pounds I thought might disappear from the massive decrease of bread in our diet never happened) I was there in a heartbeat. I go every few weeks and stock pile. I love to surprise my neighbors and friends with a loaf of Cinnamon Burst or Pumpkin Chocolate Chip along the way. We all miss our store.
Needless to say, it’s a tiny bit of a trek for us since we live close to Downtown Dallas. But, it’s worth every mile added to my odometer. Plus, I get time in the car with my teen who lives for a road-trip.
Last week we started out a bit late and got caught in minor traffic. By the time we arrived, the store had closed.
“Ohhh…,” my ever-faithful companion moaned. “It’s closed.”
“Nooooooooo!” I return groan.
I look at the hours signage on the door. We were only fifteen minutes past closing. “Look, I can see them cleaning up inside. We’ve come this far. Why not see if they will let us in.”
“You can’t do that!” my teen exclaimed.
“Why not?” I ask.
“They’re closed. … The sign says it…. They’re cleaning up.”
“There’s still bread on the shelves,” I point out. “What are they going to do with it? Maybe they would still like to sell a few loaves. Plus – we drove all this way. I’m not taking “no” for an answer. … Well, at least without asking.”
“Seriously,” I reply as I open my car door.
“Oh my word,” she started to sink low into the passenger seat, hoping no one could see her. “Oh… sometimes you’re SO embarrassing.”
“Honey – Those are people on the other side of that “CLOSED” sign. Maybe they would like to sell another loaf. Maybe I might actually be helping them as much as they’re helping us. How would we ever know if we didn’t ask –or try.”
I could barely believe her flight response.
“Since when does someone let a sign control their destiny. Where would we be if our Founding Fathers took “no” for an answer? Where would we be if Christopher Columbus took “no – we’re not sponsoring your crazy expedition” and walked away. We might still think the earth is flat!!”
As I crescendo my soliloquy, I get of the car knowing that yes, I am in fact embarrassing and clearly over-dramatic.
Sometimes, I surprise myself. And wonder what these kids will be saying about me in my later years.
I get to the front door and start knocking.
My daughter fights to slink lower in her seat, lest any passerby see her and think she’s with me.
Finally, I catch the eye of one of the workers and she comes to the door.
“Is there any way I can buy a loaf or 2?” I scream through the closed door.
“We’re closed,” she mouths.
“Pleeeeezzzze,” I plead, begging with my hands.
She looks dubious. So I catch the eye of the man who appears to be her boss. I plead motion with him since he’s across the store. She looks at him. He resigns himself to the lady who doesn’t look like she will take “no” for an answer … and they let me in.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you…” I begin. “We drove 3o minutes to get here – and got stuck in traffic. Thank you so much. We just love your bread. If your register is already closed, I have a check.”
“Don’t worry about it,” the manager says. “I haven’t closed it yet. What can we get you.”
And I load up. For us. For a couple friends. Extra to freeze.
It really was a win-win for us both.
I profusely thank them again as I walk out of the door, and smile at my daughter who isn’t so schlurcky in her seat anymore.
“They let you buy it?” she asked.
“Yes,” I answer while showing her my motherlode. “They are people. They were happy to help. And we actually helped them, too. ‘Closed’ doesn’t always mean go away. It might. But you’ll never know unless you ask.”
I realized in that moment that I need to make every effort to compel these kids to see beyond barriers. I need to get them out of today’s path-of-least-resistant tendencies and encourage them to lean into uncomfortable. Taking chances. Understanding that people are involved. People that tend to care and want to help.
Just this morning I signed a test for one of my other kids. The grade was a bit lacking.
“I didn’t’ understand a lot of the words in the questions.”
“Did you think about asking the teacher?”
“No. She can’t give me the answers.”
“I’m not saying that. She would be more than happy to help you understand the question. She’s a teacher. She loves teaching. Just ask.”
He cringed at the thought.
We’ve got a long way to go over here.
One foot in front of the other… right?
Kay Wyma is the author of Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement. She shares the hilarity and the tears that come with raising adolescents & teens on her blog The Moat … because who wants to walk that road alone.