To mark the occasion of my parents 40th, we decided to take a small vacay in the hills. Considering the situation of the pandemic, we weighed the options and did it in the safest way possible. With 2 small kids, we drove straight for 9 hours without any stops and ended up being rewarded by this gorgeous holiday home in the midst of the hills.
Baby Zo has an immense dislike for insects and creepy crawly creatures and due to the rains, they seemed to be around everywhere. She barely stepped foot without wrinkling her nose and muttering under her breath. I think if I look carefully enough, she may possibly have a mark on her nose from all the cringing and wrinkling.
Anyway, I made a concerted effort to reign myself in even though as a mother I felt she needs to let her hair down and enjoy while she can and explore nature. Especially, nowadays, open areas almost seem like a privilege. But then again, the conscious parent in me told me that it isn’t fair to try to change her innate nature or not respect her wish to avoid creepy crawly creatures.
Finally, when we came back, she once again told me that she would never again visit a place like that and that it was the worst holiday ever.
I closed my eyes, screamed internally at the ingratitude I saw in my own daughter despite constantly practicing it as a ritual in our home, took a deep breath and exhaled.
Here is the conversation that ensued:
Mama (in a neutral tone): Why would you say something like that. All of us made a great effort to give you and your sister a good break. We are per force limited in our choices to ensure that we chose a place that was secluded. It wasn’t possible for us to cater to other specifics as well. Did you really not have a good time at all ?
Baby Zo: grumpy and quiet
Mama: Ok, lets try this. Did you like the fact that our entire family was together?
Baby Zo: Yes
Mama: So that’s one good thing. Did you enjoy the roasted marshmallows
Baby Zo (smiling now): Yes
Mama: Did you enjoy the food ? and oh my, you actually ate whatever you wanted. There were no questions asked !. Was that something you liked ?
Baby Zo (grinning): Yes
Mama: Hmm..so those are three good things that we have agreed on, in a jiffy.
Now here is a rule that you may want to consider. It is called the 1:3 rule.
For every thing you do not like; you have to think of 3 things that you like. ✓
Like we just did. You detested the creepy crawly creatures at the vacay. So we found 3 things that you actually loved during your stay there.
You know how this will help you?
Baby Zo: No
Mama: These are ways of making yourself happy by looking at the brighter side.
This is a way of appreciating life. It is a way of counting your blessings and showing gratitude.
Life is never all bad. It is only the way we look at it. A little tweak here and a lil tweak there ! Voila, it is a good life.
Now, tell me love, if I gift you your favorite Barbie today. How long do you think you will continually play with it ?
Baby Zo: I don’t know, maybe a day or two.
Mama: So what then, what do we do after 2 days? buy another Barbie ?
Baby Zo (evil grin): Yes
Mama: If wishes were horses, beggars would ride on them.
Baby Zo: Gaping at me quizzically.
Mama: We can discuss that another time. What you need to understand is that do not mistake “momentary happiness” found in Barbies, dolls and cartoons as “real happiness”.
Do you know why it isn’t real happiness
Baby Zo: Nope
Mama: Because real happiness isn’t dependent on things and objects.
Real happiness is in your heart and you can seek it by looking at the brighter side of life.
Your happiness is your responsibility to find. Happiness is personal to each one of us. There is no set path to tread, to find happiness. Find your own and make it stick !
With an overload of instant gratification at our door step and at the click of a button, children seem to be unable to appreciate the smaller joys in life, the pleasure in the ordinary, sometimes even in the mundane simplicity of life.
This may have been a heavier conversation for Baby Zo, but it was my attempt to sow the first seeds of “finding happiness within” instead of making futile attempts of seeking it on the outside.