Summer vacation as a kid: sleeping in, reading my own books on the front porch all day, playing “empty lot” baseball with my brothers, riding bikes around the neighborhood with friends, watching scary movies with my best friend at her house so my parents wouldn’t find out, fishing and swimming down at The Lake, Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen…
Summer vacation as a mom with two kids: no sleeping in (kids have no respect for clock time–they only acknowledge sun time), no reading my own books (not during the day, anyway), no baseball (even on TV), no bikes (kids too young), no movies (kids can’t sit through them), no fishing (Worms on a hook? Ewww!), no swimming (Luke won’t do life jacket or water on his head), Dilly Bars…hmm…well, I guess we have had Dilly Bars.
One yes! Woohoo!
As parents, we have to say no a lot. No to ourselves and to our children. A lot. But man, in the midst of all of those nos, isn’t it refreshing to actually say yes sometimes?
That’s what The Yes by Sarah Bee and is all about. In this book, the Yes is a big orange animal-ish blob that wants to do so many things like hike huge hills, climb skinny trees, and ford wide rivers. Clustered all around the Yes though, are Nos, hundreds of Nos, all of them telling the Yes what it can’t do, where it shouldn’t go, what is too dangerous to attempt. But in the end, the Yes keeps right on going, ignoring the multitude of Nos that seek to bring it down.
It’s a wonderful, empowering message for kids. Lots of people will tell you no throughout your life, but if you want something badly enough and are willing to fight for it, you can do it. Ignoring those Nos may be the hardest thing that you ever have to do, but as the book says, in the end, all of those Nos are puny little things, completely unequal to the task of bringing down a determined YES.
It’s a great message for kids, but I believe that this book is also great for parents (these types of books make the best children’s books, right?). After I read it to Luke (age 5 now!), I realized that I had a lot to learn from the Yes. As summer vacation started, Luke and Brynn (age 2) had to figure out how to be together all. day. long. And I found myself saying (well, more accurately “loudly exclaiming”) “Nooooo!” all. day. long. It was exhausting, and no one was having much fun. After reading The Yes, I made a pact with myself: say “yes” at least once a day, per kid. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was a start, and it began to change the tenor of our summer.
One Yes. That’s all it took to make everyone just a little bit happier, a little more content, which slowly snowballed into more and more moments of peace…and more Yeses.
Did I mention that The Yes is also a great picture book in general? The prose reminds me of e.e. cummings poetry, with made-up words that don’t quite make sense but then kind of do. A little bit like Dr. Seuss, but with a more serious tone. There is repetition as the Yes tries thing after thing, and the illustrations are artistically done, not cartoony.
I really enjoyed this book, clearly, and Luke really liked it as well…especially when he got to shout, “YES!”