My daughter and I were out walking the other day. She turns to me and says:
“I have something important to talk about”
And I turn to her and say:
“So do I.” I wait a second to have her attention:
“Why do you not put the toilet paper on correctly?”
She looks at me quizzically and says:
“Is all the work I put into schoolwork really that important? Is the effort worth it in the end?”
I know. I know. Only one of these is truly an important conversation, and should be concentrated on. So I said:
“Really- the toilet paper…
No seriously. My daughter appeared to be having a crisis of faith. She worked very hard first semester on her grades. She joined clubs, took on leadership positions and volunteered. She went to parties and social things and lectures given by famous people. But she couldn’t help but wonder- is all this worth it? Is it making her happy?
There you go. That word again. Happy. And I thought back to my blog post last month- is the worst parenting fail telling our kids that they should be happy…
“Well daughter…” I started “Last month I wrote about this topic sort of. I wrote that we shouldn’t tell our kids ‘I just want you to be happy’.”
She looked at me blankly- “But you’ve said that to me…”
” I was wrong” I replied.
Right there. I admitted to my daughter that I did her a big disservice by telling her that happiness was a goal. So you admit your mistake, and figure out how to fix it…
Me: Well-it all depends on your goal- what you really want. What happens if you don’t study?
Daughter: Well I won’t get good grades. And that won’t make me happy at all.
Me: You could drop an activity
Daughter: But I love everything I do. I chose the things that mean the most to me. These things make me happy
Me: So what do you think would be better for you to do? If you chose not to study, what would you do?
Daughter. I don’t know. Maybe watch TV more? (She paused for a moment.) I guess, I know the things I do now will make me really happy in the future. I just wonder if all this planning is worth it.
Me: If you know you want certain things, a job which requires schooling, to live in an expensive area requires a decent paycheck, donating to causes you believe in requires disposable income…if these things are important to you, you need to prep, because even with preparation, none of these things are a given. But if you want a job that requires less education, willing to live in a less expensive city, then maybe you can change course. (I was just spinning things off the top of my head. I had no idea what to say to her.)
We walked in silence for a few moments.
Me: Happiness is 10% remembering the past, 25% prepping for the future, and the rest is experiencing the now (FYI- I have no idea how I ratted off these percentages- I told you- this was one of those Mom moments where you are just trying to explain the secrets to life and the universe to your child and you have absolutely no clue about any of it. talk about making stuff up that you might live to regret saying…)
Daughter: That makes sense. It’s all about balancing out your time. There are things you just need to do to make other things better.
(What- this is making sense? let me jump in here with an example)
Me: Exactly (exactly? I had no idea what I was talking about) It’s like laundry. You hate doing laundry in the moment, the sorting, the washing, the folding and putting away. But when it’s done and you have clean clothes that smell nice…totally worth it.
Daughter: Yeah. As long as I remember to do something a little fun when stuff is stressful, it all works out. Thanks Mom. You’re the best. Can we get gelato?
Me: Yup (wow- she really must be learning to look for hidden meaning in meaningless statements at college. But every penny of tuition is worth it if she can make sense of what I said- and btw, what did I say?????)
Me: Of course we can get gelato.
What was the point of all this?
- Parenting never ends
- Parents have absolutely no idea what to say to their kids 99% of the time
- Happiness is a concept that can’t be explained
- Happiness might require a little bit of planning
- Happiness is not 24/7/365
- Gelato solves everything
Obviously- we have a lot more to discuss about happiness…tune in tomorrow!!