Your Child’s Yes Day

My girlfriend Lisa told me a few months ago about a blog post she read about asking your children if they had a day where you told them they could do anything and you would say yes (within obvious reason) what kinds of things the children would come up with that would surprise you.

I had been thinking about it off and on since she told me about it, because I say no way too much. As Kelly Corrigan so eloquently and aptly put it in Lift, it is my default answer to everything. I can usually imagine before the question is even out of their mouths that it will require something from me, something I don’t want to give right then, probably time, more likely attention. When I say it like this, it sounds so incredibly selfish, I realize, but it is more than that. I mean more than just the attention or time that is required with those requests, those needs of theirs; it is the fact that the majority of what they want to do is unappealing to me. Hey mom, want to play Barbies with us? No. Want to play Legos? Not really. Want to get out our very large craft kit and watch us make a really big mess of the kitchen table for thirty minutes creating a masterpiece that we will then cry buckets over when you throw it away? Gosh, I don’t think so.

And even when it is an appealing option like snuggling on Emma’s bed having “secret story time” as Abby calls it or playing our new favorite trio game of “Zingo”, I still feel myself thinking…just a minute girls, I need to start some laundry, unload the dishwasher, pick up these toys, finish this game of Words With Friends and then we can play, read, snuggle, be together. And they wait, sometimes patiently, more often than not, with increasing impatience as the “just a minute” turns to ticks of the clock never-ending for them. The moment that I am free, the moment that I am theirs, the moment that I turn my no into a yes, they are all-in with me. They are one hundred percent into whatever we are doing, and I can feel their little love tanks refilling with my presence. With my time. With my attention. Because the truth is that they do not care for a moment what the activity is at all, they only care that they are doing it with me.

I took some quiet time with Emma and asked her what sorts of activities she would be likely to ask me to do if she thought the answer would not be no. Her answers pretty much split my heart wide open in their simplicity and innocence, and in the fact that they all represent things she actually wouldn’t normally be inclined to ask me, but for me they all seemed like things I would have guessed she wouldn’t hesitate to ask.

For instance, she said that she would love to walk with me at the local greenway and just talk, but she knows I am not really into being outside.

Or that perhaps she might ask me to carry down her breakfast dishes when she eats upstairs but she doesn’t because she knows my hands are always full.

She suggested that she might ask if the two of us could have a shopping day together, where we took turns trying things on in different stores and then surprised each other by secretly buying something without the other person seeing.

That was it. Those were her three ideas. The three things that she would only ever be inclined to ask if she didn’t think the answer would be no, because normally in her mind the answer wouldΒ be no.

Who wouldn’t want to say yes to this girl?

Emma does not know it yet, but Saturday is going to be her yes day. And actually, it is going to be mine, too.



Your Child’s Yes Day — 49 Comments

  1. So glad, I’m not the only who does that – saying “no” because I don’t like my son’s ideas. He’s always asking for family game night – what all therapists say are good family activities. Except, I hate board games! So, you’ve inspired me, Ashley. When he gets home from sleep away camp, I’ll grant him three wishes – hopefully none will involve strenuous physical activities or board games :)!

    • Can’t wait to hear what his choices are! Surprisingly, I actually like board games but it is tricky with Abby still being so little, since I also like playing board games by the actual rules! πŸ˜‰

  2. Good for you for being aware of how easy it is to say no. Emma is so sweet. I wish you enjoyed walking outdoors more with her, that can be so relaxing and you can both learn things about the plants and animals you see. Have a wonderful Saturday!

  3. This is a very good column, but sad. Reminds me again that I wish I was closer. Emma is so sweet.
    What were Abby’s wishes?

    • I didn’t ask Abby. She gets most of what she wants anyway, simply because she has the ability to throw the bigger tantrums and scream the loudest! πŸ˜‰
      I wish you lived closer, too, as Emma would be so happy to have your company!

  4. This reminds me of the the movie Casino, do you remember Robert DeNiro had a sign behind his desk – NO in big red letters and yes in little tiny letters?

  5. I loved this column! And I do remember those days….but, oh the satisfaction when we realize that it really is the simple things in life that bring joy – both to us and to our children…..and I know, as an adult, I have finally learned the lesson of “less is more.” Simple life is simply wonderful, and we definitely can learn that from our children. LOVE this picture of Emma…and I am with Bill….did Abby have any ideas?

    • See my above comment back to Bill about Abby. And I already know her ideas would involve a puppy and a return trip to Disney World! πŸ˜‰
      Less is definitely more. And simple life is simply wonderful, which is a great saying. πŸ™‚

  6. Aww! This is so sweet! And look at her…. πŸ™‚ precious.

    I told Elizabeth about this post and asked what her ‘yes day’ questions would be (13 yrs old btw) and it was “go to Snowbiz”. (Snowcone place). That was it! Wanted nothing more. Woot!

  7. Thanks for linking to me. This reminded me that I need to do a Yes Day too before school starts next week. I think it’s much better if you don’t tell them in advance and then see how it goes. Good luck and I’d love to hear what you end up saying Yes to.

    • I will definitely have a post with the results of the YES day! πŸ™‚ Thank you for the inspiration and for reading and commenting! Hope you do your Yes day soon, too!

  8. Oh what an AWESOME post. SO convicting and ABSOLUTELY so me!!! “Just one more minute…” as time goes by and I (like you) get things done. SO many things on my to do list that I somehow forget the reason why I am home with my children! I justify it by saying to myself:”I do all this work for them, so in the end I am parenting my children doing these things” But if I really prioritized. If I really truly digested all the warnings that this will go by so fast, these young years. If I seriously reflected on the last nine years and how they are a big ol’ blur. I would stop writing right now and go be with my children. Here I go… in just a minute. πŸ™

    • I know, right? You hear everyone say it, you know it is true and yet you still run around going, going, going until sadly it just may be gone. I hear you 100%.

  9. Sniff. Sniff. SOB!! Just makes me feel guilty about all the times I say no. You are so right, all they want is some of our time an attention. What a great column. Can’t wait to hear how your day goes!! Too bad I can’t be a fly at the greenway to check out how you are fairing in the great outdoors. I think I am going to secretly call Emma and suggests you then eat lunch outside too πŸ™‚

    • Erin…I just laughed for 5 minutes after reading the “I’ll suggest you eat lunch outside, too” line. OMG!!! That would be a *real* test of the concept of Yes Day for sure!! πŸ™‚

      • You girls are funny! πŸ˜‰
        I will fess up right now and say that our Yes Day did not involve the great outdoors!

  10. All they really want is our time and attention. It seems easy to give, like you say, but we are often so caught up in what needs to be done that we don’t see the importance of giving in to the moment. I always enjoy the moments when I say yes more than I think I will. And I will definitely have to have a “yes” day with Mikey too. Great post!

    • I always enjoy the moments when I say yes, too! πŸ™‚ Hope you get to do a Yes day with your sweet boy soon!

  11. I love this!! You know, even though we talked about that blog entry, I never did ask my kids what they would desire on a Yes Day. Frankly, the thought of giving that kind of power to a preteen boy is frightening, but he’d probably only want to have Papa Johns Pizza (which I detest) every meal, be allowed to play X box to his heart’s content, and not shower. Lucy, on the other hand, might surprise me. I’m pretty sure that chocolate would be involved somehow in some way.

  12. Woah. This made me tear up, Ashley. I default to “no” or at least “soon” (which often ends up being never, really) waaaaaaaaaaay too often. I think I’m going to schedule a “yes day” with my girls (individually) before they go back to school. Maybe even once a month. Who knows. It’s worthy of a solid attempt, don’t you think?

  13. {Melinda} Okay, you’re about to make me cry. What a beautiful post. Your daughter is just an adorable cutie-pie. I could relate to so much of what you said … I did that ALOT when my kids were younger. You think there will always be time — later. And then you turn around and they’ve grown up and no longer want to be with you as much. Then suddenly they are teenagers and you have to beg them to say “yes” to spending time with you!

    You are so wise to cherish special moments with those sweet little ones now. You will be SO glad you did.

    • Thank you for this beautiful comment. πŸ™‚ I will take it to heart because you are further on this road than me, and I value learning from those who have come before me.

  14. I remember hearing about a poll that was given to kids offering the choice of what they would like to have the most. Several things listed were HOT toys/electronics – but the overwhelming majority choose spending more TIME with my parent. That has always stayed with me.

    • Funny, but I thought of that same survey as I was asking her the question. It has definitely stuck with me, too.

  15. I love her ideas, they are awesome, especially the last one.

    I love the idea of a yes day. It makes my heart hurt that we have to do this consciously, because no is so much easier. On us. Got to do this. Frequently.

    • I know, it is hard to realize that it has to be conscious, but it is true. And we all do the best we can and it is better than average! πŸ™‚

  16. I am guilty of the “just a minute” and “I’ll be there as soon as I….” even now and my children are older. This is a great reminder. Even five minutes with them is satisfying to their hearts.

    Last night I was tired and my daughters (fifteen and twenty) wanted to go to ice cream after they saw a movie. They called me and at first my response was, “But I’m so tired.” I am glad I got up and met them. Even though they are growing up, they still need to watch me switch from no to yes because I love them.

    • I absolutely love this comment. I was just telling my girlfriend this story at dinner last night, and we both totally teared up. I am so glad you went with your girls, too! πŸ™‚

  17. What had me laughing so hard was the comment you left for bill about asking Abby her wishes. “She gets her way because she screams and throws tantrums.” she and Austin are two second children peas in a pod:)

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