Last week my six-year old grandson, Tee, came for a week long visit without his parents or siblings. We were both excited. I planned a bunch of fun activities – swimming with cousins, an afternoon of art with his aunt, and a day with a new friend at the Cumberland Park Splash Pads.
One of the most endearing things about Tee is his enthusiasm for whatever is happening. Whether hanging out at the house, going to the county fair, or making friends with a boy down the street – Tee can have fun just about anywhere.
On Sunday, we headed to the Splash Pads with my friend Holly and her daughter Wren. Unfortunately, it was closed, so Holly suggested we head to Shelby Park – a glorious green space along the Cumberland River. But when we got there, the Nature Center was also closed, and the sun had gotten hot. As the children began playing it occurred to me that the day wasn’t turning out to be that much fun.
Soon Tee approached me. “Lizzie,” he announced, “this isn’t much fun.”
I looked down at his sweaty face and his sweet little eyes and said, “You are right Tee, it isn’t much fun”.
At that moment I realized how easy it would have been to try to convince Tee that it was fun, even though it wasn’t.
I wondered how many times I’d told my children to ignore the truth of what they were feeling in the interest of being nice. Perhaps some parents would have thought Tee was being rude, that he should be enthusiastic no matter what – even if he had to give up his own internal truth to do it.
We often teach kids not to hurt feelings or rock boats; we try to convince them that their perception and feelings are wrong, when the better lesson might be to simply help them understand an appropriate time and place to express their feelings.
In this case, there was no harm in Tee telling me he wasn’t having fun, and we changed plans right then and there so we were both happier.
Are you ignoring your own perceptions and feelings because you are afraid of rocking the boat or hurting someone’s feelings? Is there a “not so fun” part of your life you are pretending is okay because you are afraid of the reactions if you expressed this?
This week, become aware of those feelings. Note them. Embrace them as valuable and ask yourself this question: What’s really true for me?
Then decide what action (if any) you want to take. Tell me what you discover.
Until next Tuesday!
PS. Have you checked out the audiobook version of Live Large on Audible yet? You can listen to a clip from the audiobook here (even if you don’t have an Audible account). I’ve also got a sample chapter from the audiobook posted on SoundCloud – click below to listen!