How a simple yes can make his day


"Once there was a tree... and she loved a little boy." -Shel Silverstein

Apparently our yard isn’t good stick gathering ground.

A few days ago I took the boys to visit a park we had never been to before. Within minutes Levi had collected a pile of “weally, weally good” sticks. (He is a stick connoisseur these days.)

No sooner had the pile appeared than he began asking if he could take them home. “We don’t have any sticks at our house,” he reasoned with me. “I neeeeeed these.”

Lately I feel like I’m saying no all the time. No, you may not watch 17-hours worth of television. No, we just had a snack 12 minutes ago. No, we can’t invite ourselves over to so-and-so’s house. No, we can’t go to America this weekend. No, no, no, no. And so when he asked to bring the sticks home I decided a yes was in order.

I told him he could choose the best one and bring it home. As soon as the words left my mouth I amended it for him to bring two (one for each hand) and that he could also choose one for Judah. (Wow, three sticks! I was feeling very pleased with myself for how generous I was being.)

“But I love ALL these sticks mommy,” he sweetly whimpered, blinking those big, brown eyes. “And we don’t have sticks wike these at home.”

He was right. Our yard is a very non-stick-producing yard. All we have is one frangipani tree and a couple of other small, sparse trees. And who am I to place a value on the coveted stick? After all, I’m thirty-six. And a girl. And I don’t really like to get dirty.

And so I rethought the whole thing.

“Levi, you’re right,” I said. “We don’t have sticks like these at home. We won’t always be able to take sticks from the park home like this, but you know what? Today we’re going to do it. I think you’ve had a great idea.”

“WOW!” he beamed, and then proceeded to jump up and down for the next 45 seconds until he thought of a problem:

“But how will we get them all to the car?” he asked.

“You are forgetting how very big my hands are,” I grinned as I spread my fingers out as wide as possible. (I could easily carry all the sticks in one go, but I smiled wider realizing the magnitude in his eyes.)

He was absolutely thrilled and began skipping around the playground like he’d just been given tickets to the circus.

You know what, friends? Putting a few sticks in the back of the car to take home didn’t put me out one bit. It didn’t make a huge mess in the car. It didn’t inconvenience me at all in fact.

What it did do was make my little boy’s day. It showed him that having some fun is important. It showed him that I was willing to listen to him – his reasoning and his desires – and that I would honestly consider his point of view. It showed him that what mattered to him, mattered to me.

I’m still saying no about allowing him to walk through parking lots without holding my hand (even in response to his impassioned reminders that, “I already IS a big boy!”), but—to the best of my ability—I’m also remembering the sticks and the power I have to validate what’s important to him, respect him as a person with unique ideas and desires, and simply make his day every now and then.

Dear friends, do you find yourself saying “no” a lot, too? When’s the last time you said “yes” to a bunch of dirty old sticks?

Adriel x

About Author

Adriel Booker is an author, speaker, and advocate based in Sydney, Australia who believes storytelling, beauty, and the grace of God will change the world. Adriel has become a trusted voice in areas of motherhood and parenting, Christian spirituality, and global women's issues. She's also known for her work with the Love A Mama Collective—serving under-resourced women in developing nations through safe birth initiatives—as well as her years spent as a Bible teacher and leadership coach. Her latest book is Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss and she's made the companion grief journal available for free. Find Adriel across all social media platforms at @adrielbooker or sign up for LoveNotes, Adriel's 'secret posts' that aren't published anywhere else online. ✌️


  • Sarin
    20 November 2013 at 10:52 am

    Yeah I guess you got to pick the right moments to say Yes. But to tell you the truth… I feel all I’ve been saying to my 16month old is No all day long! I try so hard to say Stop or Uh Ah instead but it’s like an automatic reaction – No you can’t do that…No you can’t have that…- I’m so tired of saying No. I would like to say Yes to him and see that beaming smile.

  • Mindy
    23 November 2013 at 8:21 am

    I love how something so simple can make such a big difference – and how we can apply that truth to so many areas of our lives.

  • liz
    30 December 2013 at 4:37 am

    Hi! I loved your story! The way you granted his desire, so simple, yet showing that you not only validated his desire but helped him fulfil it by offering to help carry his sticks just resonated with me. I immediately thought of our loving Father in Heaven who sometimes says “no” to our wants will also sometimes grant us those wants and He will help us achieve them. Our desires and wants, important to us, are also important to Him. Thanks for sharing!


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