In my wanderings on Amazon, I came across a book by Paul Boyton titled “Begin with Yes”.
This triggered a memory of an experience I had years ago.
It was a classic busy day Saturday. I was running errands, working on the garden, home projects, doing some paperwork, etc.
Later that evening, seeing an opportunity for some quiet relaxation time, I flopped down on the couch with a snack and a nice glass of red wine.
Immediately after I settled in, my son came up to me excited.
“Dad!”, he exclaimed, “Do you want to play ____ with me?!”
I don’t remember now exactly what the question was. Basically he asked me to have some fun with him.
“Not right now son. Maybe later. ” I quickly responded.
A look briefly flashed across his face. It was so fast I could have easily missed it.
But I didn’t.
The look was a combination of disappointment & sadness.
He slumped his shoulders and looked down.
Then his attention shifted and he swiftly sprinted away called out to his brother to see if he wanted to play.
Had I not picked up on this look, I would have gone back to whatever I was doing and probably not thought much further about it.
My son specifically thought of me; asked me to have an experience with him;
and I said no.
Why? Why did I do this?
Was that moment of relaxation really that important compared with a memorable experience with my son?
What if he stops thinking of me and stops asking to play?
My energy came back.
I got up and found him.
We played and had a nice time.
I decided that from that point forward, I was going to try to start with “Yes” and work from there.
Perhaps there is a good reason to say no. Sometimes there will be.
More often than not, though, I find that if I start with “Yes”. I can figure out a way.
It wasn’t as hard as I thought.
I’m far from perfect. But now I now try to apply this everywhere I can.
“Dad, do you want to go downstairs to play ping-pong?!”
“Honey, how about we watch an episode of Mad Men together tonight?”
“Uncle Pat! Do you want to play with my monster trucks?!”
“Hey bud, how about we catch up and get together for drinks on Friday?”
“Bark, Bark, Bark, Bark!” (from my dog Moose)
Translation: “Hey Patrick! Do you want to play some run and catch with this tennis ball?”
Whenever I find myself trying to say “no”, I think of the look of my son and try to say “yes”.
It was a great turning point for me.
I haven’t read the book. If you have, let me what you think of it.