The Power of Yes

The Power of Yes, and the Eventual Realities of Life

“Yes,” I answered my daughter.  “Yes, we can still read Harry Potter together tonight.  It’s only 9.”

“Yes,” I said to my eldest.  “Yes, I can take you to go kayaking this afternoon.  What time are your friends meeting and where?”

“Yes,” I agreed with my middle child.  “Yes, you can have all your friends over tonight, on a Wednesday night.”

The power of being able to say “yes” may just be my most favorite part of summer’s freedoms.  

In just the one week’s time lapse since they have said goodbye to their teachers for the summer, we’ve
completely changed to a new mode.  It’s like switching off a light: it’s school.  It’s summer.  We know that the same process will happen in reverse in just weeks, and perhaps that thought motivates us to pack more into each 24-hour segment.

The requests come daily, and with an astonishing lack of organization and forethought from the three of them (and their friends).  But we’re all riding the high of “it’s summer!!” and I push aside other demands, trying to accommodate all their fun plans.  I can’t do it for forever, we all know, but it’s as if there is a tacit understanding between us all for now.

The allure of water reigns: there has been waterskiing, swimming in one river and at least two ponds, kayaking and fishing, lots of fishing.  The neighbor happily commented that our pond looks like a “country club for teens”, with chairs and fishing poles strategically placed alongside lacrosse nets and sticks.

Between different practices and tournaments, their friends join up, and sleep over, and leave, and come back again, all in a dizzying assortment of in’s and out’s that make meal planning essentially impossible.  “You’re out of milk,” one pointed out with a rather high level of annoyance, grimacing at his cereal bowl.

“I wasn’t,” I answered back with a grin, “until you all showed up.  But, there is half and half. That will work, if you want?”

We’ve snuck out, in the middle of the day, joining a friend to go strawberry picking, with me fitting in client calls on either side.  I’ve knocked off early, giving into the call of South Pond, thrilled when the storms held off just long enough to enjoy the early evening in a beautiful spot.

I smash in hours of work while they are still sleeping, in between carting them from one place to another and while they are occupied with their latest ideas of “this is fun”.  I try for maximum efficiency, multi-tasking whenever I can, and pushing myself to not feel a sense of urgency on those tasks that really can wait.

I can’t sustain it, of course.  I can only play for a bit in their summer-vacation world, before clients will become–rightfully–upset.  And my own natural sense and longing for order and control can’t be kept at bay for long.  Today, only seven days in, I left to-do lists for each of them, putting some of the chaos into calm again, particularly in the kitchen, where apparently everyone–but me–can leave things on counter tops for literally days on end, with no worries at all.

I know I will be insisting on order and structure faster than I had hoped.  Already next week the arrangements are coming together for car pools to camps and practices.  The overall summer has its time limits, its organization.

For now, though, I’m holding onto this past Sunday’s moments.  I finally made time for my daughter and I to paint each others’ toenails.  We closed out the longest day of the year by sitting by the koi pond in the dimming light, discussing the merits of the various toenail polish colors.  “I’ll do yours now, OK, Mom?” she said. “Do you like purple?  Or this pink one?  I like the pink one.”  I lounged in the Adirondack chair, listening to the softly splashing waterfall, accompanied by ten-year-old girl chatter.

Love the power of yes.

Jill Stahl Tyler is a parent to three children involved in the local schools–this fall, only at the high school and elementary school levels.  She firmly believes in all education, and currently sits on the board for the Brattleboro School Endowment and the Brattleboro Town School Board. Contact her at

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