Once upon a time I had a high school job in a very high end store where which purse with which shoes were of critical importance. One day a shipment arrived completely messed up – the manager was screaming “this is a tragedy”.
I looked at him like he was nuts.
Sure this was simple semantics and emotion but he was naming this scenario a “tragedy”. I thought about the Holocaust we were studying at school. I thought about my uncle dying at 42 leaving a wife and 3 kids under 10 . I thought about someone I knew in serious distress.
Then I looked at the expensive silk tops that came in the wrong colour and the skirts shipped without the 2, 4 and 6 .
I have never forgotten this moment
Last week I went to a cocktail party and the lead speaker was addressing us on the topic of “helping our children achieve success”. I normally don’t love these talks as they push stuff I dont really want to buy into philosophically. But this one was good.
Basically it was a talk about helping your kids manage and understand the difference between devastation and disappointment. Remember anxiety and depression seem to be at an all time high with this generation.
In the heat of any moment we do not always know the difference. At the risk of stating the obvious – failing Calculus is one thing and losing someone close to you is quite another. But in the moment when you sleep through that exam because you set your alarm for p.m. not a.m. – it hard to remember it is not the end of the world.
Our job as parents is to react accordingly so that they can too.
When our kids fail or get hurt or left out or not invited to that grade 2 birthday party or get dumped, we need to be a safe place for them to tell us. We need to share their disappointment but not be devastated.
I called my daughter at University and said –“Write these two words on a piece of paper and put it on your bulletin board above your desk. When something hard happens look at it and think of your whole life and which one it really is.”
These words are above my desk too.