Dearest Sister of my Heart,
Whilst you are off upon an adventure afar this month (I am thinking of you and praying for you), I am on my own humble adventure right here in my very living room. It is the adventure of disappointment therapy.
I was a whiner as a child (I’m sure you know). When I was unhappy or uncomfortable I wanted to express it and the easiest way to do that was to share my woe with whomever was nearest-by (which, let’s face it was usually my mom… us poor moms). It should come as no great surprise that my son has inherited this god-awful tendency and takes up whining as his weapon of choice when he is not getting something he wants. It is not uncommon for me to hear, “But Moooooooom, I WANT some (fill in the blank)!” And on my worst days it is not uncommon for me to respond with a mutter, “Yeah, well, I want one day without whining or complaining and have I gotten it?” as if comparative woes were the answer to his poor problem of deprivation. On most days however (and even some bad days when I am cautious enough to guard my stupid tongue), I respond with a simple question, “Well, do we get everything we want?” Without fail, he considers this matter for maybe half a second and, because he also takes after his father (thank the Lord), comes to the logical conclusion that no, of course not. This short discussion inevitably ends with a pitiful look of sincere disappointment on his beautiful little face… and to be totally frank, I am really grateful for it.
To get even more to the point, I must share with you that Evie is now learning the difficult concept that life not only holds desires and gratification but also disappointment and delayed gratification and, much to the bolstering of my personal comic relief, is not necessarily taking it as well at age one as her big brother does at five. She is a little bit more demonstrative in her emotional responses in general, but her specific response to my denial of crackers lately has been priceless. Which makes me a worse mother… stifling giggles or sometimes openly laughing as she throws herself across the coffee table or onto the floor after I have informed her that no she may not have any fish crackers right now… or giving her the fish crackers whenever she asks.
It sounds horrible, giving thanks for the heart-rending look of disappointment on your son’s face or laughing at the physical outburst of frustration from your normally sweet-tempered toddler-baby girl. I want to give my kids good things. Sometimes Chocolate milk and crackers just aren’t as good as being denied and facing disappointment. Now, I will admit, I did not say ‘fun’ things… I said good things. Yup. Being told no and being denied a little luxury that we want are the first steps, the disappointment only gets bigger as life goes on. You know this, I know this, they are learning it. I pray that my daughter handles disappointment at age five with the same grace and acceptance that my son does and the only reason I can laugh at the hysterical outbursts of frustration is because, let’s face it, I can toooootally relate! Delayed gratification sucks… get used to it, Baby.
Love you and hope your time there is nowhere near disappointing,
P.S. – What have been your big disappointments lately and how did you receive them?