Sad Happies

My son was an epic fatalist. Nothing was right it seemed, and at that time in my life (about eight years ago) I was a disillusioned and eternal optimist. That position has shifted drastically since. Now I consider myself a paradoxical realist, trying to hold the joy and the grief of the world together (Lesson #2,512—see below).

At that time, though, Michael was really jacking up my way of being with all of his “waah-waah” business. Nothing was right and everything was wrong and he was only two years old. I was NOT going to allow this small being to bring down my sunshiny world. So I came up with an absolutely BRILLIANT plan. My plan was that each night before we went to sleep, we would say our “happies.” Happies were explained as anything that went well during the day or something (ANYTHING!) that you felt happy about. ANYTHING, I say! The inaugural night came and it was Michael’s turn to share his happies.

That kid screamed and cried at the very moment it was his turn to do his happies. He proceeded to shout through his gasps for breath, “I only have sad happies!”

What the fuh? Are you freakin’ kidding me? My brain flared up and I thought, but hopefully did not say, “OH NO YOU DON’T, LITTLE BOY . . . OH NO YOU DO NOT! You will find something happy to share and you will find it now! I am your Mother! There, THAT’s happy!” My memory is that it possibly, may not have been one of my finer moments. Sigh.

Happies got renamed on the very first night to happy happies and sad happies, with every emotion allowed that anyone felt. The rule then became that there had to be at least one happy happy, which during those early years was sometimes hugely difficult to find . . . for all of us.

My former spouse and I were in marital counseling at the time, and we shared the story of happy happies and sad happies with our therapist. Our counselor was thrilled with the fact that our son was “holding the paradox” of life and smiled a huge smile at the brilliance of our child. Life lesson with Michael #2,512 became something about paradox and releasing expectation of your therapist always agreeing with your way of seeing things.

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