Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Has Your Kid Ever Had a Bad Day?

Nicholas had to write a story based on the concept of the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  He had to describe a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day of his own.

I help with the Writer's Workshop in his class so I had the good fortune of reading his story as he was writing it.  I was confused with his story because I'm pretty sure his brother didn't push him down the stairs and I know I've never grounded him for an entire week.

When I asked him about his made-up story he said, "Mom, I had to make up my story because I've never really had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day."

Wow.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

I was secretly thrilled that he couldn't conjure up a day so terrible that he remembered every detail.  But, I wondered if it's OK that his idyllic life thus far hasn't presented him with any problems necessary for some serious introspection.  OK, he's only eight, but still...

It reminded me instantly of the Modern Family Tree House episode where Haley has to write about the biggest obstacle she's overcome for a college application essay.  Only, she can't remember any obstacles she's had to overcome and blames her mom for fostering a boring, sheltered existence.

Of course Haley blames her mother in the TV episode and I'm sure my kids will blame me for whatever misfortunes they think they have endured or will endure.  But, would it be the worst thing in the world if I were blamed for fostering a boring, sheltered existence?

I'm not so sure.

There are plenty of opportunities ahead for my kids to have bad days.  There are plenty of opportunities ahead to overcome obstacles.  His idyllic days won't last forever.  I may resemble the overprotective Claire Dunphy now, but I will allow my kids to fail and I will allow them to experience heartache.  They will never know their full potential if their mettle isn't tested a time or two or ten thousand. 

But, for the time being, if my eight-year-old hasn't experienced any terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, I'm OK with that.   When I was his age my parents were divorced and I was getting in trouble at school, among other things.  I can think of several horrible, very bad days before I even turned eight.

I read stories every day about kids living in homeless shelters, getting in trouble with the law, hampered by a learning disability, or worse.  I'm saddened by stories of kids who grow up too fast without parents who provide boundaries and love.

I much prefer that Nicholas has to make up a sad story rather than live one. 

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