Jenn Morgan Danny Drake

Have you ever heard people joke that they tell their dog "no" so often that the puppy probably thinks that's his name? Well, I imagine that can be the same with children.

For just one week, I would like to count the number of times my husband and I tell my daughter "no." Since children typically tend to challenge authority figures and do not pay attention to the first, second, or third command, I am going to guess that the number of times my daughter is told not to do something hovers around the 50-ish mark. Though it may sound like I am Cruella de Ville, when you do the math, it is really not that hard to hit the double digits. There are seven days in a week, and if I tell my daughter "no" three times in the morning and three times in the evening, she has already heard a negative command 42 times, from just mommy. My calculations do not even take into consideration the number of times she is corrected during the day at school. Though I do believe my daughter is every ounce of perfection, I am sure she tries to test her boundaries with the teachers to see if by chance, someone might cave and allow her to make her own rules.

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This weekend, my husband and I took my daughter to a place where she could touch, tug, pull, run and basically do whatever she wanted without once hearing the word "no". This magical place I speak of is the Please Touch Museum in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. I have to admit, though I love my daughter to pieces, I do not love the thought of a weekend with droves of rowdy, sugared-up youngsters running circles around me. But, because our daughter is the apple of our eyes, we decided to bite the bullet and drive to Philly to allow my daughter a day of "yeses". It was wonderful to see my daughter run, touch and explore without once having to correct her or bear witness to a tantrum. By the sheer nature of the safe, yet intriguing exhibits at the Please Touch Museum, there was enough leeway and freedom for Isabella to be inquisitive of all she saw that she did not feel the need to break any rule or dare us to correct her.

Isabella splashed her boats in the flowing water of the River Adventures exhibit, hopped on the musical lily pads, and frolicked in the Wonderland exhibit. She made her own Big Mac in the faux McDonald's, undressed a baby doll and checked out X-rays in the Medical Center, and mowed the grass in the City Capers exhibit. I think her favorite play area in the entire museum was the ShopRite "store." Her and about a bazillion other children rammed tiny shopping carts into each other in a derby-like fashion, and emptied the displays of fake breads, produce and meats. As fast as the employees re-stocked the shelves, the energetic children emptied them with vigor. My husband and I, along with the other parents of the younger children ran around trying to make sure their bumper car-style fashion of shopping was kept in check. My daughter did accidentally knock over one tiny tot with her little pint-sized shopping cart, but after a few tears, both her and the injured victim quickly forgot the incident.

After the museum, we stopped into Pottery Barn Kids for a little window shopping, and my daughter having just been accustomed to a free-for-all outing continued her adventure in the PBK store by testing out the kitchen, taking the dollies for a walk in the display stroller and playing peek-a-boo in the make-believe cottage tent. My daughter was having such a good time, we did not want to be the "Debbie Downers" of her day and tell her "no".

Parenting requires creating boundaries for children and guiding their actions to protect them from getting hurt and hurting others, which often results in negative commands and restrictions. With so many days of "no", it is refreshing for both the child and the parents to have just one day full of "yeses". Try it some time, I think you'll like it.


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