Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Ruined Ending

My children and I spent a week without Daddy... and we were having such a good time (despite the missing Daddy, which was pretty much a constant)! Last Friday we made a list of "Fun Things To Do," and we did all but two of them (playing Twister and riding bikes). No tantrums, no real fights, lots of movies, cooking, shopping, etc. We went on all sorts of adventures, drove all over the area, I taught the kids how to play Uno, my daughter cooked her first dinner (lasagna), etc.

We were at dinner last night, only a few hours before we were to go pick up Daddy at the airport... and everything suddenly went south. My son, the moody one (gets that from me), decided his dinner isn't coming fast enough. He started to get mad every time some other table got food, and he didn't.

Trying to distract him, I asked, "So, what was your favorite part of this week?"

His answer: "Nothing. It was all boring."

Yes, he was just being moody and tired. Yes, I shouldn't take it to heart. But I do. I spent so much time playing around with my kids and doing goofy stuff--not writing, not sitting them in front of the television, but being a VERY active parent--and the mood thing hurt me.

Now I look at the big list, the one we've been checking off all week, even drawing smily faces where we really liked what we'd done, and I just don't feel happy about it.

It's like a book that is going well, going well, going well... and then its ending stinks. I read the last few paragraphs, my stomach sinks, and I wonder, What the hell was that? Is that the end? Really? It's not missing a chapter?

I believe Carl Jung suggested readers read to "practice," as if each fictional story is practice for their own life's ending. An ending is satisfying if it happens the way we wish our own lives would go--the hero winning, balance restored, happiness, or at least resolution. When it doesn't satisfy us, it does so because the outcome is absolutely not what we would want, or it leaves us hanging in some limbo, waiting until the next book comes out. The second one just ticks me off. The first reason, though, makes me wonder... what if my desired ending isn't someone else's?

What if my son's snide attitude was his way of not regretting the end of the fun week? What if he fears that the fun is over (now that Daddy's back), so he's negating the fun so that he doesn't miss it? And he doesn't understand the effect on his readers (i.e., me and my daughter) and doesn't realize the ending won't work for us?

We talked about the week again last night, and he made it very clear that he loved all sorts of parts... especially Uno and garage sale shopping (the second wasn't even on the list!). Perhaps a little sleep, and an assurance that the fun is not over yet, will help change the ending for us all.


  1. That’s a hard one… kids are hard to read. His comment could have been a direct reflection of the moment.
    Kids take the most reliable parent for granted. I find if I treat my wife that way my kids follow suit. Being a mother is a thankless job.

    I hope you don’t take it to heart.
    My guess is he really didn’t mean it that way, but I do know how you felt.

    Best of luck

  2. Poor kid.

    Times without Dad are fun simply because they are so unstructured. We always have a grand time when there are no regular meals and no one has to worry about schedules.

    How do you explain that to a kid? Dunno. Mine just sorta figured it out.

  3. We are about to have four days of no rules, I mean no Dad...We stay up late, we write all day (my 14 year old write too) and we eat out a couple times...Oh and we watch reality TV. It's like a mini vacation from our routines. :) I'm glad yours was mostly fun...

    Thanks for stopping by my random question/prize blog party...

  4. Thanks for all the input, everybody. Seems my son was more tired than anything, and I think he saw the "fun" as a negation of his dad's absence... he's starting to identify very strongly with his father. He wouldn't let go of him the whole day after we picked him up...