My middle child, youngest son, turned 12 today. I did not get him what he wanted for his birthday. There were various reasons, initially my over analytical, defensive personality wanted to go into them here, but I will leave that out as it is not pertinent to the story. I had what he asked for in my hand, couldn’t do it and felt really, really bad about it. I bought him something he will like and we will do a lot for him this weekend, but I still felt sad for him. I always feel sad for my kids when they don’t get what they want, even stranger, when something of theirs breaks – it makes ME sad. Even some shitty non-important McDonalds type toy, must be some latent childhood thing and I really don’t understand the emotions. But I digress….
I spoke with my son this morning about the fact that he was not getting what he asked for and the reasons. I struggled over whether to do this (before he got his other presents), but I always hated the waiting and the eventual disappointment – so we had the discussion. He cried for a minute and then seemed to be ok. In addition it was a busy morning, my wife was out of town visiting a sick Aunt, our schedule was disrupted, we had additional tasks, and we didn’t have a lot of time to recognize the birthday. I made them oatmeal for breakfast, which is not his favorite. On the drive to school I apologized to him for the less than stellar birthday morning. My 14 year old piped up and said, in a joking manner, “Yeah, it sucked, it really sucked”. They both had a good laugh and I realized that this was such a brilliant thing to say. I think it made us realize that it didn’t suck – it was just life.
As someone in recovery, who is just now learning to be ok with not getting what I want, I wonder why I fight so hard to NOT give him this lesson. I certainly don’t want him to be like me when he doesn’t get what he wants. Perhaps he was given a greater gift today, to learn how to deal with the disappointments of life – I don’t know.