This morning my son Theo protested to me that he was having a really unlucky day. He had woken up really early and I had told him he couldn’t watched tv yet, later he had been playing a video game and he had been killed in the game and then when he had got up from his seat to get dressed he’d stepped on a piece of Lego, which really hurt, and now I was making him do his math!
I commiserated with him, while also explaining that not all of that was bad luck. Some of this was just his having to follow rules or work hard to improve certain skills, or put away his toys. Unfortunately, after he finished his math like I’d asked him to, his play date was suddenly cancelled, which really was bad luck. I felt bad for him. I explained what had happened and that I had managed to arrange for us to hang out with his cousin instead. At first he was disappointed and upset but then he perked up at the thought of having some unexpected time with his cousin. Even though we spent the entire afternoon at Ikea, Theo had a blast playing on the carts with his cousin Kaia. On the way home, we stopped by the library to pick up the free book, The Bridge to Terabithia, he’d won as part of the summer reading program. Then we all had a mellow evening watching the movie based on his new book. In the end, I think even he would admit things had worked out pretty well in the end.
Now, I could say I was pretty unlucky today too. Theo woke me up early, argued with me about wanting to watch tv when I was barely awake, and then whined about how unlucky he was and how he didn’t want to do math. I had hoped that after he’d done his math, I was going to have a free afternoon to work while Theo was on his play date. Instead I had to come up with an alternative plan (the theme of my whole week!), which meant I wasn’t able to work. We came home, had dinner, watched the movie and then I had to figure out what to give away. By 9:30, I had nothing. I drove to Trader Joe’s, hoping to be able to give something spontaneously while shopping or in the parking lot, but it didn’t work. Then I drove around the block a few times thinking maybe I would leave something somewhere – on a bench, under a tree or on a wall somewhere. But nothing seemed right. In the end I pulled up in front of the Little Free Library near Theo’s school. It was looking neglected and empty, no doubt missing the hundreds of kids and parents who walk by every day during term-time. I placed three books inside and got back into my car feeling disappointed. I’d done this before. It was a very dull Giveaway. Hey, maybe today wasn’t Theo’s unlucky day, it was mine!
But as I drove home, I realized that I hadn’t been unlucky at all. I had handled my child’s disappointment decently, used my wits to rework the day, enjoyed some quality time with my sister and niece, and then watched a nice movie with my family. Ok, I didn’t get any work done and my Giveaway was on the dull side, but I could hardly call it a bad day – for either of us.