Because I Said So
As we approach Mother’s Day this weekend, I am reminded of the many Mom-isms that I heard while growing up. “Don’t sit so close to the TV. You’ll ruin your eyes.” “Don’t run with scissors.” “Put on some lipstick. You need some color.” “Wear clean underwear in case you get in an accident.” And of course, the ever-popular definitive answer to my question “Why (or why not)?” — “Because I said so.”
This morning, I awoke to find my cat sound asleep in the bathtub (there was no water involved). Usually tub beds are reserved for romantic comedies when a couple is forced to share a hotel room and the man wants to be chivalrous…or for the inebriated individual who isn’t ready to wander far from toilet. But no one ever told my cat that the bathtub is not a place to sleep. So when I told him that the bathtub was not a cat bed, he looked up at me as he curled against the cool porcelain, and happily posed the challenge, “Says who?”
Now, I could have responded with a “Says me,” or “Because I said so.” But he was right. What’s wrong with bucking convention? Who makes these silly rules anyway? For instance, I regularly eat foods for breakfast that “they” have deemed dinner fare. I don’t always eat a slice of pie starting from the pointy end. I use chopsticks incorrectly (I cross them — my great-grandmother is turning in her grave)…in my left hand. (Yes, I know. I’m ashamed.)
In his last lecture before he passed away from pancreatic cancer, Dr. Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, spoke about “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” and enabling the dreams of others. His parents let him paint his aspirations on his bedroom walls when he was in high school. And why not? Sure it was unconventional, but it was just paint. Yet it meant so much to him. And he begged other parents to follow suit if they received the same request. So, when our daughter asked to paint her bedroom door like the entrance to J. R. R. Tolkien’s Mines of Moria, we said “Go for it.” And it turned out to be magical. (Her final, remaining step is to go over the elvish writing with glow in the dark paint.) It made her happy. It didn’t hurt anything, and it’s actually quite beautiful.
So before I say “no” or “because I said so,” I try to ask myself:
- Is it illegal?
- Could someone get hurt physically, emotionally, financially?
If the answers are “no,” then I also ask myself “Will it help someone or bring joy?” If the answer is “yes,” then the real question is then “Why not?”
My daughter sometimes prefers to camp out on her floor next to her perfectly comfortable bed. Why not?
My son likes to use the engineering genes he inherited from my husband to build all kinds of dynamic contraptions (and attach them to his bicycle). Why not?
My cat wants to sleep in the bath tub. Why not?
Don’t let someone tell you why you can’t do something. Surround yourself only with people who love and support you. Try something new. Something unconventional. Something different. Ask yourself today, why not? Because I said so.