Don’t Mix the Play doh and Other Idiot Parental Moves I’ve Made

It’s the day after my little one’s monumental third birthday bash, and truth be told, I’m a little overcome.  It was a beautiful outpouring of people who love her filled with the things that her life revolves around right now: her friends and family, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese and carrots with hummus, pink princesses and pirates, and a ridiculous amount of play doh.  But I’m no talking about that today.  I’m talking about the fact that I was awoken by a little blonde head donning a princess crown and roller skates inquiring, 

“Can we play with play doh, Mom?”

And my sleepy, not-yet-had-coffee answer was a resounding,

“Not yet.”

Every year on El’s birthday, I have chosen one thing specifically to pray for her for.  The day she was born, Rich and I prayed that she would be a fearless little warrior.  We may have overdone that one.  On her first birthday, we prayed that she would learn that night time was a beautiful time for rest.  And though we still struggle with this one, she is so much better than that those first two years and we are nothing short of thankful for all of you who prayed for us as well.  Last year, we prayed for opportunities for her to grow and learn and she took swimming lessons and gym lessons and started going to “big girl” Sunday school and play dates with her friends.  But this year, as I reflected on what I can pray for her for, I heard my own voice echo in my head.

“Give me a minute.”

“In just a second.”

“Not right now.”

“Maybe later.”



“Don’t touch.”

“Don’t go there.”

“Don’t do that.”


If you were to sum up my dialogue with my daughter, these phrases would make up the majority.  True, she’s three and it is prime time for discipline as they really are the little sponges everyone warns you about, but matters of discipline aren’t really what I’m talking about.  I say no to jumping in puddles because I don”t want to clean the clothes.  I say no to going to the park because it’s cold, and truth be told, sometimes I’m too lazy to chase her around.  I say no to having friends over or reading a book because I’m too tired.  I yell when she gets food on her clothes, when she can’t focus on what I’m saying, when she won’t say thank you.  I hate play doh and it kills me when she mixes the colors.  Or breaks her crayons.  

I am a “no” machine.

But I don’t want to be.  The reason why I’m saying no to all of those things above has everything to do with ME and nothing to do with her. 

She should jump in puddles-it’s fun.  She should play with her friends and wear her nightgown to church if she wants to.  And heels with everything.  Cake for breakfast every once in a while is not going to kill her.  And let her mix the damn play doh.  Does it matter, really? She should roll around in the dirt and go to the zoo in the snow and watch the same video over and over again because it’s her favorite and the fact that if I hear that song again one more time I’m going to sc

I’ll continue to pray for my girl as she grows, but this year, my prayer for her is one for me.  That I say yes more than I say no.  That both stand alone and with strength so that she knows what is important and what is not.  

So, when she asked me again (after two cups of coffee) I put on my happiest face and set up the play doh ice cream factory she got for her birthday all over the dining room table.  I even made a cone or two.  Pink and yellow swirl.



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