As a child, adults always seemed to have this habit of using "maybe" to say no. At first it would get your hopes up, but eventually, you would realize the correlation and come to see that "maybe" rarely – if ever – actually meant you had a shot at whatever you were asking about. And before long, it's just so commonplace that you stop noticing… that is until I found myself doing it, which made me reconsider how often we shy away from saying what we mean.
The last time I saw my younger cousins, our visit wasn't long enough to play every game they would've wanted, or do any other host of activities which only kids can bounce from one to another that quickly. So at some point, I found that I replied with "Maybe later," or "We'll see…" about doing things.
However, at a certain point there was no more "later" when it was almost time to leave, and I "saw" very well that some things would just not happen. When they didn't, I looked back and realized that I had done exactly what many people had done to me as a kid, and all of the sudden I'm not so sure it's worth it.
Why do we find it easier to put things off with a "maybe" than a "no"? It probably sounds nicer, and leaves a possibility, even if there's not much of a likelihood. While it can be disappointing to let someone down – especially a child who looks up to you – and easier to be less specific, I'm not sure that it actually benefits anyone. It might even cause more disappointment by allowing them holding out on hope only to find later that it won't happen, than just saying "no" and moving on might do.
If most kids are like my cousins, they remember even what you say no to, so they'll certainly recall the maybes as well! And maybe it would be easier to just stick with saying what we mean instead of leaving things up in the air to put off disappointment. And when we make a habit of it in general, we can likely find we do this with a lot of other people we interact with as well. We all know nobody has the time for everything; would it not be simpler to actually say what we mean from the beginning, and save ourselves and others from having to bring it up again later when there are no more excuses left?