The title of this article may have misled you. I’m not talking about the well known book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. But rather, I want to talk a minute about saying ‘yes’ to your kids. When Kathryn was a little girl, one evening, she had finished her dinner and was asking for a second helping of ice cream for dessert.”No,” I said. “You’ve already had dessert.” Without hesitation, Allyson scooped up another small portion of ice cream into her bowl and gave me one of those looks – you know – a SWMBO look. Later, I quizzed her. “Why did you give her more ice cream? She already had some.” “Simple,” she replied. “There was no reason to say ‘no.’ The time will come when they are gone, and then you’ll wish you had said ‘yes’ more often.” I was struck dumb. My whole life, I had grown up in a house that said ‘no’ quite a bit. Being told ‘no’ was part of growing up, being mature. In Catholic doctrine, we call it self-mortification and it’s very popular, especially during Lent. Here was a piece of family philosophy that I had never heard of and certainly never believed in. Could she be right?
[callout]The time will come when they are gone, and then you’ll wish you had said ‘yes’ more often.[/callout]Flash forward to today. Dinner is finished. It’s a beautiful spring evening in Texas with a blue sky that goes on forever. The breeze is cool and the air is fresh. God’s creation is almost begging me to come outside. What am I thinking? “How much of the SQPN server move can I get done before it’s bedtime?” I’m sitting at the computer in the study. I’m there a lot. It’s strange, because I sit at a computer most of the day.You would think I would get sick of it.
Hannah approaches me and, expecting me to say ‘no’, sheepishly asks “Dad, will you take me riding? We haven’t ridden in three weeks. I understand if you want to do something else.” My heart breaks. I see, in a flash, the past – a dozen times in the last week I’ve said ‘no’ to her and her siblings. Then the future – Hannah at 18 going off to college, getting married and moving to Peoria. She doesn’t have time for me anymore and I, like the fool I am, wasted the time I had with her. My eyes mist. I grab her and hold her and squeeze her so tight, she squeals, “Ugh! Dad! You’re choking me!” “Yes, I’ll go riding with you.”
After our ride, Hannah and I are up in our brand new tree house. It’s twilight and it doesn’t have a roof yet, so we lay on our backs and stare up through the branches at the sky as the first stars of the night twinkle to. “I love you, Dad. I can’t wait to build our barn. I want to pick the color of the tack room…” It’s almost as if God is rewarding me for ‘good behavior,’ but I really don’t deserve it. ‘ Mostly, I remember tempus fugit.
Allyson was right. But don’t tell her I said so, OK?