I Hope You Have An Average Day
When my kids leave with grandma for the afternoon, go to a friends house or head to camp I am going to start saying "Hope you have an average day!" Instead of "Have fun!" or "I hope it's a great day!" I realized I have been setting their expectations so high for everything that they are constantly disappointed. Now don't get me wrong, I think kids should be disappointed in life. They need to know how to handle things not going their way and not getting what they want. Life isn't fair and that is a phrase they hear all of the time around here. But I've noticed an attitude in my kids that is disheartening. They are only telling us the negative things have happened in their day.
My kids had field day at school this week. The best day of the year; bouncy houses, slides, cotton candy, etc.. What did I hear about? Who was crying, who punched who, the heat, the sore ankle. When I send them out into the world telling them it's going to be fun or to have the best time I set the expectation that life and everything in it will always be exciting and wonderful. And when it is not their world seems to come crashing down. It is almost as if I am setting them up for something that is never attainable and so they swing the other way because they didn't have the best time ever, so they complain about it.
But then I think about my own life and how I am not much different. It is like when I compare my life to others. I will never be happy. I swing the other way and just complain about all I don't have.
But what would happen if I set their expectations much lower, more realistic? What if I set the expectation for the day to be just average? Greek philosophy speaks to this as the "Golden Mean," which is the desirable middle between two extremes. There will amazing parts of our days/weeks/months and really hard parts. I do want to hear that my daughters ankle is hurting or that my son was wrongly accused of punching a kid. I need to hear those things. But I also want to hear about how delicious the cotton candy was and that the slide was so fast. I want them to know when hard things happen it is not going to be the end of their world. When life is boring they can adapt and not grow anxious because they know it is a normal part of life. I want them to learn that their joy should not be found in people, activities or things. They can find happiness there, but they will disappoint at some time or another and their joy needs to found in the Lord.
After explaining this to my kids, this morning I told them to have an average day. They laughed and said "No, Mom, a golden day!" So this summer I am going to continue to tell my kids (and myself) to have a golden day. To be ok with the desirable middle between two extremes. And maybe then they'll be surprised by the good in a day and strong through the disappointments.