I remember being disappointed all too many times growing up.
Disappointed in little things, bit things, things that just didn’t go my way. I remember being disappointed in life, being let down time and time again by people and family who were supposed to be there to support me and encourage me all the time, no matter what.
It’s hard to swallow being let down by those you love. It’s hard to come to terms and accept reality that things don’t always work out, and that things aren’t always in our control…or in the control of others who promise never to do anything to hurt us.
My parents disappointed me a few times growing up; not being able to take us on some big extravagant Disney Vacation, not buying me a specific pair of shoes that cost more than they should (even though I had to have them because everyone else did).
But the fact of the matter is: Disappointment is part of life.
A few weeks ago, I let my son down for the first time.
It wasn’t anything major. And it’s something that he’s already forgotten about and moved on from. But it lingers in my mind. Even though it wasn’t something that will have a long term impact on him, just knowing that mommy let him down—in whatever tiny or big way—kind of breaks my heart a bit.
We took him about a month or so ago to the movie theatre in town to see Cars 2. We have a movie theater here on base, too and the movies usually arrive here five or six weeks after they stop playing in town. Well, Cars 2 was coming to the base. And the husband and I had little man all hyped up to go see it one Saturday afternoon. We’d been telling him all week that he was going to go “eat Popcorn and watch Lightning McQueen.”
He. was. stoked.
We got to the movie theater about 30 minutes before the show was supposed to start. Enough time to grab some popcorn and a drink
and a box of chocolate candy for me and get our tickets. Turns out, the theater doesn’t take a Debit/Credit Card (I know, right?! Hello stone age…). Surprised, the husband ran across the street to the ATM machine (one of only two on the entire base) to grab some cash. It was broken. And so was the other one on base.
As I stood outside the movie theater with Noah, waiting on the hubs to come back with the cash, he called to tell me that they were broken. And that we wouldn’t be able to see the movie that day. My heart broke a little bit for my son. Because, even though it was just a movie, one that I’m certain we’ll purchase the day it comes out on video, we had promised him—I had promised him—that we would see it. And now, I’d have to go back on that promise.
Of course, he cried and got upset and freaked out a bit, but within 45 minutes of leaving the theater, he was fine.
But I wasn’t.
We took him and bought him a toy instead. To make up for breaking our promise.
And even though I know that that probably wasn’t the “right” thing to do, because we are “setting him up to think that he should be rewarded and compensated when things don’t go his way,” it made me feel better. Because I broke a promise. A tiny little promise that he will never remember.
But one that I won’t forget.
I won’t be able to fix everything with plastic cars and cheap toys, but for now, I’ll do what I can.
If there is one thing I learned through that tiny mishap it’s this:
Disappointment is part of life.
And it’s my responsibility as a parent to teach my son this lesson. And grow him up in a home where he learns and acknowledges that his mom and dad are only human. That we will, unfortunately, let him down. Probably more times than either of us would ever care to admit.
But, there is always one person who will remain true and faithful and loyal no matter what. One person who will never disappoint him. One person who will never let him down.
And he’s the one that I want my son to learn to lean on and rely on.
No matter what.
How are you teaching your children to deal with disappointment? Have you had that first “disappointing parent” incident? What happened? How did you handle it?