The Plagued Parent

posts about surviving our children, the Baby Boomers who raised us, and everyone else with an opinion...

Door of a Thousand Yeses

My daughter’s bedroom door makes me think of all the “No”s I’ve ever said.

This is mainly because the door represents a big old “Yes!”

Our house was never really huge on rules.

When the kids were small we pretty much let them do whatever they wanted to their rooms with one exception — the walls. Both my wife and I were pretty diligent with our edict “No tape on the walls.” That’s where we held the line. That and put away your clean laundry.

Marking up the walls is awful. The tape usually peels off the paint or marks up the wallpaper. We’d consent to certain kinds of tape “guaranteed” not to cause damage, but inevitably that only went so far. Every now and then, as the girls grew they invariably wanted to imprint their space with emblems of what each felt made them, well them.

I don’t know when it started, but my youngest decided that putting stickers on her bedroom door instead of her walls was the way to go. Basically I think this grew out of two things — her love of stickers in all forms, and her inability to reach high enough up on the walls to make decorating them worth the effort.

Again, I can’t remember the exact way it all went down, but I’m sure it went something like this when she was likely 5 or 6, possibly younger.

“Can I stick these on my door,” she might have asked waving a book of stickers.

“Sure, I guess so,” I might have replied thinking she meant the inside of the door, the part that faces into the room. However, that’s not what happened. She stuck things to the outside. Lots of things…

how to decorate a door with stickersNeither my wife or I  freaked out so it continued… for about 10 or so years, give or take.

My daughter is 16 and still decorates the outside now and then with numbers from track meets and races, bumper stickers or something she may have found on vacation.

Every sticker is a loud and resounding Yes filled with exuberant meaning.

Decorating the inside of the door began last year but with a more tasteful deliberateness  than the outside.

She jokes that when she gets a car she’ll paste it with stickers. Of this I have no doubt.

I’ve told her that when she moves out the door goes with her; she’s put in too much work for that to be left behind for those who might not appreciate her efforts.

Recollecting exactly how it went down is beyond me, but I’m willing to bet that in my daughter’s 5 year-old mind she likely thought, I can’t believe they’re letting me do this. 

Digging deeper I can’t really recall many of the Nos that I’ve uttered across the years but I know they’re out there.

If you eliminate the obvious Nos that exist for safety sake — such as, No you cannot play with the circular saw —  what remains are little things that manifested as Not right nows or Just give me a second or I’ll get to it in a second sort of thing.

In the end everything boils down to a Yes, doesn’t it? Without Yeses nothing happens. Yeses have a profound energy like nothing else.

The Yeses we extend to others build memories. The Yeses we accept from others build love.

Occasionally, I go longer than three days without a shave and when the white of my beard shows right through I can see time flee before my eyes.

Like my daughter’s bedroom door, I hope to live out a thousand Yeses before all doors finally shut for good.

For this very reason I remain on the lookout for unique and inventive stickers to fill in whatever blank space persists.


Updated: September 14, 2017 — 1:01 pm


  1. Love this! It helped me remember the joy I have when I say yes, to others & to myself!

    1. It’s a balancing act for certain… Thanks Kate.

  2. One of my regrets now is how many “no’s” I said to our kids. The time goes by so fast, what would have happened if I had said yes to some of the little things they wanted, like taking a walk or going to the beach. Great post!

  3. What a great story…because think of all of the stories this door can tell!! But she should definitely take it with her—she could frame it–LOL!

  4. A thousand yeses. Wow. I am going to carry that line with me for as long as I can. We have always done art projects on our reclaimed dining room table with no newspaper or covering. There are paint streaks and glitter glue and other marks. I call it the patina of life. I think I like a thousand yeses even better.

    1. I like patina of life better myself… Thanks Anna.

  5. I would’ve done the same. My youngest wanted red walls in his room. I let him. It was his space. I chose my battles carefully and have few regrets in that area.

    1. Exactly right, you have to choose carefully otherwise you miss some opportunities…

  6. My kids stick stickers to EVERYTHING. I used to freak out, like “no, you can’t put stickers on your dolls/toys/etc” but now I let them – it’s not hurting anything, and it’s THEIR property. Interesting how parenting evolves over time – I imagine my third kid will be hitchhiking and drinking moonshine when they’re 5, “eh sure, go ahead”. 🙂

    1. That’s so true about the sliding parenting scale. Still I suppose there could be upsides to hitchhiking and moonshine… just give me a sec…

  7. I love this, as I have a sticker obsession myself. Ask anyone who has ever received a card or letter from me. Those plain white envelopes call out to me to decorate them before mailing. 🙂

    1. That’s great. Thanks for sharing…

  8. I adore this!! What a wonderful door of memories and you are so right about the “yeses.”

  9. I am a big believer in saying yes. the current “Year of Yes” is old school to me! And you, apparently….

    1. So it would seem… Thanks Carol.

  10. This is lovely! It reminds me of my advice I’d give my younger self as my daughters were growing up – pick your battles. I can see love all over this post and respect as well. 😊

  11. Love this! Funnily enough, my little ones have started asking to put stickers onto their doors, and i’ve allowed it though I had some doubts. So I could end up with doors like this eventually!

    Once, when I was looking at houses, I saw one that was owned by a couple who fostered a lot of kids (and had kids of their own). Interestingly, they had let the kids write and draw and sticker all over the walls in their bedrooms. They felt that it helped them. Leaving kids would be leave messages behind for new kids too. Usually i’m not a fan of people letting kids write on walls particularly, but actually I could see the point there. And I think there is something about people who often feel displaced wanting to be able to leave a mark that shows that they were really there and really part of that place. Prisoners do it. And people think it is just an act of wanton vandalism, but it isn’t. If you read what they write, they do it for more than just to cause trouble. They leave messages for the ones who come after. And they write things that record something about who they are. I think it’s a way of not being a faceless number in a blank room. And I think i’ve wandered way off topic!

    1. That’s a great anecdote. I love the idea of kids leaving messages for those who follow. In a way you are dead on that the blank walls and total cleanliness seems to reflect a room in which life seems not to have expressed itself. Certainly no a room I’d find interesting or inviting.

  12. This is awesome! I’ve let my daughter do the same on her dresser, unfortunately she’s out grown the dresser, but I hate to get rid of it.

    1. We kind of drew the line at decorating furniture after having to toss out one that saw much abuse. But, hold on to it just the same.

  13. Wow. I’m on my phone so I couldn’t see the picture ahead of time . I love that you let this keep going!

    1. Yea, the door cracks me up every time I walk past it.

  14. Saying “yes” is a good habit. I feel happy whenever my one “yes” brings smile on someone’s face.

    1. I am really trying to say “yes” more. Often times the “no” really just robs us of some rich experience, or enriching everyday patterns.

  15. Love this. I think the rules are so important because it helps them appreciate the things they can do even more.

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